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Associate Professor of Business Administration 

Division of Research 

Graduate School of Business Administration 

Harvard University 



copyright, i95o 
By the President and Fellows of Harvard College 



George F. Baker Foundation 

Donald K. David, Dean 
Melvin T. Gopeland, Director of Research 

Printed at 



The supply of executive manpower in business corporations 
ever needs replenishing. Expansion of operations, retire- 
ments, and other circumstances cause vacancies to occur 
which must be filled. Frequently there is a dearth of well- 
qualified candidates for filling vacancies both in top manage- 
ment positions and at lower administrative levels. Hence a 
growing concern over the problems of executive training and 

In this report Professor Mace presents the results of his 
first-hand observations on the manner in which numerous 
industrial companies are undertaking to develop administra- 
tive talent. This study is closely related to various other 
research projects now under way or contemplated at the 
Harvard Business School. In fact the report on one of those 
projects — Developing Men for Controllership by Professor T. F. 
Bradshaw — is being published concurrently with this report 
by Professor Mace. 

Through the field research done in these two studies and 
from other business sources we have found that there is a 
particularly wide and growing concern among business 
executives with this management problem. The publication 
of these reports may therefore prove timely. 

The costs of this research study were defrayed by an alloca- 
tion from the funds contributed by The Associates of the 
Harvard Business School. 

Melvin T. Copeland 

Director of Research 

Soldiers Field 
Boston, Massachusetts 
March, 1950 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


As a member of a faculty engaged in helping men learn the 
"how" of administration, the author shares the interest in 
individual growth which is an intrinsic, continuous part of 
the educational process. This interest was quickened by a 
consulting assignment concerned with some of the problems 
of executive development in the electric utility industry. 
Thus the opportunity to undertake a one-year research 
project of executive growth and development in manufactur- 
ing companies was welcomed, especially since the increasing 
number of requests for information on this subject reaching 
the School provided further evidence of its recognized im- 
portance by businessmen. 

This report is likely to be disappointing to those who seek 
quick and easy methods for the growth and development of 
able personnel. No capsulated programs were found which 
could be put into effect on one day and from which observable 
results would be produced the next. Individual growth, 
like education, is a slow process. This does not mean that 
nothing can or should be done to promote growth, but only 
emphasizes that time, patience, and the interest and help of 
all executives constitute essential ingredients. 

One of the problems of undertaking a research project of 
this kind is that the nature of the relationships among organ- 
ization personnel is intimate, frequently hard to define, and 
still harder to express in meaningful words. It would have 
been possible to study the external trappings of development 
systems or programs, but it became apparent very early that 
these can be misleading and dangerous tokens of effective 
development efforts. More important are the beliefs, con- 
clusions, insights, and judgments of responsible administrators 
who are growing and who are developing others. Frank 
discussions with this primary source of information on the 
subject of people necessitated, of course, observing the con- 
fidential quality of the information. Accordingly, the case 



illustrations used are presented with disguised names, loca- 
tions, and industries. It is hoped that the essential facts are 
presented faithfully and without error. 

A related problem involves reproducing the actual cir- 
cumstances of situations without undue length and detail. 
It will be noted that most examples are relatively brief. The 
oversimplification of complex and intricate relationships was 
a conscious effort of the author to present many illustrative 
"for instances" and to stimulate readers to consider the 
examples within the framework of their own experiences. 

To the extent that the conclusions of this study prove useful 
to business managements, there exists indebtedness to the 
many executives who contributed the results of their experi- 
ences. Acknowledgment by name is precluded, but the debt 
is real. 

I am grateful to Professor Melvin T. Copeland. It has been 
my privilege to be associated with Professor Copeland both 
in teaching and in research, and his relationship exemplifies 
the concept of coaching described in Chapter VI. I am 
grateful, too, to many other colleagues for their suggestions, 
wise counsel, and critical comments. Among these are 
Professors Kenneth R. Andrews, Russell Hassler, Fritz 
Roethlisberger, and Dr. Lewis B. Ward. 

Miss Jean Armistead proved indefatigable in typing, and 
Miss Margaret C. Williams' sharp editorial eye and judgment 
vastly improvedjthe manuscript. 

Sincere? appreciation f is expressed, too, for the tireless 
interest and constructive help of Mr. Arthur H. Tully, Jr., 
and Miss Ruth Norton, assistant director and secretary of the 
Division of Research, respectively. 

The responsibility for the conduct of the study and for the 
report rests inevitably, however, on the author. 

Myles L. Mace 
Soldiers Field 
Boston, Massachusetts 
March, 1950 

[ viii ] 



I Introduction ........ 3 

Need for Executive Development 
Development Programs 
Responsibility of Board of Directors 
Purposes of the Report 

II The Requirements of Executive Positions . 18 
The Mythology of the Ideal Executive 
Reasons for Defining Job Requirements 
A Goal for the Development Program 
Specifications for Promotion Selection 
Impersonal Guides for the Employment of New 
Procedure for Defining Job Specifications 

III Appraisal and Inventory 48 

Measurement of Executive Qualities 
Whom to Appraise 
Appraisal by Whom? 
Some Problems of Appraisal 
Replacement Tables 
Executive Personnel Files 

IV Psychological Tests 83 

V Approaches for Growth and Development . 92 
Planned Progression 
Rotation Among Business Functions 

VI Coaching . 107 

Coaching and Administration 

Opportunity to Perform 


Climate of Confidence 

Standards of Performance 

Creating a Team 

Knowing the People 

Subordinates' Participation 

Fair Treatment 


Table of Contents 


VII Getting Coaches to Coach . . . 157 

Other Coaching Problems 

VIII Administration of Development Programs 176 

Advanced Management Programs 

IX Summaries and Conclusions 188 

Index 197 





This study was initiated at the request of active business 
leaders who expressed concern over the lack of opportunity 
for growth of men in their organizations and the responsibil- 
ities which management has for correcting the situation. 
Members of the top managements of several companies 
stated that they had heard or read about various approaches 
for the development of men, and wondered whether these 
ideas had any value and could be applied to their organiza- 
tions. This project is an effort to contribute to the partial 
solution of the questions raised. 

The study considers the steps taken to encourage the growth 
and development of executives in manufacturing companies. 
It is an examination of the policies, formal programs, in- 
formal approaches, and practices of manufacturing com- 
panies known or reported to be doing effectively "something" 
about the development of men for responsible management 
positions. The investigation has been for the most part 
limited to manufacturing companies in order to obtain a 
reasonably broad sampling of companies in a corporate 
area that would be manageable within the period of one year 
devoted to the study. 

From the very beginning no statistical survey of executive 
development in manufacturing companies was intended. 
No efforts have been made to compile a summary of com- 
panies, by size or otherwise, in which conscious attention has 
or has not been given to the problems of developing people. 
We have not been interested in "what is the situation among 
manufacturing companies generally?" Rather, our main 
concern has been to determine by selective inquiry what 
seem to be the main elements of a constructive approach for 
the growth of men in a manufacturing company. 

Our tentative initial belief, prior to extensive field work, 
that the key elements defined for a manufacturing company's 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

development program would have application to a non- 
manufacturing company has been confirmed during this 
study. Several companies of the latter type were visited, and 
as a consequence the author believes that the program ele- 
ments presented in this report apply, in general, to business 
organizations other than manufacturing. Some adaptations 
are necessary, of course, to meet the peculiar requirements of 
an industry; but no more adaptations seem to be required 
than any specific manufacturing company needs in order to 
adapt the elements of the approach presented here. Each 
administrative organization is unique, as will be developed 
in Chapter II, and the author believes that the conclusions 
reached in this report have wider application than to manu- 
facturing companies alone. 

It was not possible to visit all the companies desired and 
suggested during the survey. Certainly, value would have 
been added to the findings by additional case studies. It is 
believed, however, that the experiences reported by the 
executives of the twenty-five companies studied in detail and 
by the many officers and directors of other companies not so 
fully covered provide sufficient evidence to suggest a sound 
approach to the problem. 

Need for Executive Development 

Intensified interest by business executives in the develop- 
ment of their subordinates has arisen in part as a result of 
World War II. The loss of capable middle-management 
personnel to the armed services and the almost complete 
termination of the flow of competent young people into the 
lower levels of organizations created a substantial gap in 
management succession possibilities. Many key officers of 
companies stayed at their jobs beyond the duration of the 
war and beyond their normal or expected retirement dates. 
In some companies executives have remained until there was 
assurance of competent successors. 

Another reason, more intangible but none the less real, for 
the increased attention to executive development is a belated 
recognition of the fundamental importance of human beings 
in industry. Technological developments, stimulated and 



encouraged by the war, have far outstripped our administra- 
tive knowledge and capacities to cope with the changes. New 
skills are required, new understandings of people in organiza- 
tions must be established ; in short, new types of administrators 
are needed. Business leaders are increasingly recognizing 
their responsibilities to provide for the development of to- 
morrow's executives. 

In addition to these two reasons, there are other objective 
causes for interest in the development of people. During the 
course of this and the Westinghouse study, 1 it was found that 
relatively few managements are aware of the requirements for 
executive manpower to replace those officers who will retire 
within the next ten years. And even fewer managements 
have made any comprehensive analyses of their needs for re- 
placing executives who will die or become disabled prior to 
retirement. The unpleasantness of the subject probably 
explains why this replacement requirement has been over- 
looked. In one utility company in which an analysis was made 
of the mortality and disability rates, it was found that separa- 
tions for death and disability had been as large as those for 
retirement. 2 But whatever the magnitude of death and 
disability requirements in any single company, it represents a 
factor to be considered in planning for competent manage- 
ment successors. 

The almost impossible task of measuring in dollars and 
cents the benefits of developing individuals for management 
positions probably accounts for the fact that companies have 
so frequently overlooked these programs as a method of 
reducing costs. Actually, it was found that in some companies 
development activities were the first to be dropped during a 
cost reduction program. Many executives, on the other 

1 In 1 948- 1 949 Professor J. Sterling Livingston and the author made a four- 
month study of the problems of executive development in the electric utility in- 
dustry at the request of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. A report was 
presented at a Conference for Executives of the Electric Power Industry sponsored 
by the Westinghouse Electric Company. This report was later published in 
The Second Future Power Market Forum. 

2 The Commissioners' 1941 Standard Ordinary Mortality Table provides little 
comfort on this score. This table indicates that among individuals whose age 
is now 45, 32% will not live to age 65; among those whose age is now 50, 29% 
will not live to 65; among those whose age is now 55, 23% will not live to age 65; 
and among those who are now 60, 15% will not live to normal retirement. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

hand, stated that the most valuable asset in their companies 
was the group of people who made up the organization. No 
dollar figure reflected this asset on the balance sheet, but the 
element that gave value to the plant and machines was the 
group of employees. Perhaps this concept has been stated 
so many times that in its triteness we disregard the possibilities 
of reducing costs by encouraging the development of the skills 
and capacities of the people in the organization. 

There are few members of management who would not 
accept in general the reasons for doing something affirmative 
about the development of personnel. It is easy, however, to 
neglect this phase of operations, and the same executives who 
agree in general on the need for development frequently 
postpone doing anything about it in the face of what seem to 
be more urgent operating problems. No item on the profit 
and loss statement separately reports and directly reflects the 
cost of inadequate attention to the development of people. 
And rarely are special control reports prepared which isolate 
and define the cost of employing personnel and then losing 
them after six months or a year. In some companies efforts 
have been made to estimate this cost, but usually this task is 
undertaken only when the turnover problem has become so 
acute that management action must be taken. Also, it is not 
practical or possible to measure in dollars and cents the cost 
of not realizing the full potential of existing employees in the 
organization. Sometimes such cost is reflected in "bad 
morale" — poor spirit — but these are certainly intangible 
qualities, and complex relationships with other company 
policies are involved. The lack, however, of tangible and 
concrete cost data does not lessen the desirability of fully 
developing the skills and capacities of a company's employees. 

Evidences of most managements' predilection for emphasiz- 
ing the value of plant and equipment to the disregard of 
people were effectually illustrated in a large eastern manufac- 
turing company. In an effort to diversify its existing line of 
industrial products, the management secured the approval 
of the board of directors to organize a subsidiary division to 
manufacture and distribute a consumer's product. Approxi- 
mately two years were spent in planning and securing the 



appropriate plant and equipment. When it became necessary 
to man the new subsidiary, sales, production, and other 
management personnel were transferred from the parent 
organization. Nothing had been done during the two-year 
period to prepare for the management of the new subsidiary; 
it was assumed that competent members of an organization 
manufacturing and selling industrial products could auto- 
matically transfer their abilities successfully to consumers' 
products. The first year of the operation of the subsidiary 
resulted in a substantial loss. It was explained that this was 
due to the problems of starting a new venture. When the 
losses during the two succeeding years exceeded those of the 
first year, the board of directors promptly terminated the 
diversification effort, sold the plant at a further loss, and 
absorbed the personnel back into the organization of the parent 
company. The president stated that the subsidiary might 
have succeeded if as much management attention had been 
given to staffing the organization with competent people as 
had been given to planning the requirements of physical 

This situation was found to be not unusual. Similar diffi- 
culties were reported by other executives. In some cases it 
was possible to achieve profitable operations by the employ- 
ment of personnel from other companies in the industry, but 
only after painful recognition that the development of per- 
sonnel for expanded operations is just as important as the 
plan for plant and equipment. 

The striking need for the development of employees is 
sharply apparent in small enterprises. There the owner- 
manager typically makes all the management decisions. As 
the business grows, new employees are added, but the manager 
usually permits them to participate only through the perform- 
ance of minor tasks. The main bottleneck preventing the 
further growth of the company is frequently the owner-man- 
ager himself who, as the result of his habits of work, finds it 
almost impossible to delegate responsibilities to his subordi- 
nates. In a small southern manufacturing company, for 
example, the president-owner, 38 years old, directs the opera- 
tions presently employing about 40 people. His insistence 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

that all mail pass over his desk, that all sales and purchases be 
handled personally, and that he know about every entry 
made in the books, though there are in fact competent em- 
ployees to perform these tasks, realistically limits the size of 
the enterprise to the capacities of the single manager. The 
company is, in every sense of the word, a one-man business. 

Tragic evidence of this same phenomenon is frequently 
found in so-called family businesses. The strong and able 
father has created the enterprise, and because of his abilities, 
it has grown and prospered. Starting in a small way, he has 
performed every job involved in the business. As it expanded 
and as sons have come into the company, he continues to 
"run the show." The son or sons occupy various positions 
of little actual responsibility, yet are assured by the father 
that "someday this business will be yours." The father, 
however, does nothing constructive to prepare for this eventu- 
ality, and the sons, with unusual exception, are lulled into 
a false sense of security. What they have learned by observa- 
tion and absorbed by "being around the shop" is some 
contribution to their understanding, but more frequently 
than not the father's death thrusts management responsibil- 
ities on unprepared shoulders. The enterprise then may 
languish for years while the new manager sincerely and 
earnestly tries to learn quickly the "how" of management. 
Many examples come to mind to illustrate like occurrences, 
but this type of situation is probably so familiar to the reader 
that further elaboration seems hardly necessary. The sig- 
nificant point is that succession of management, which is 
uniquely important in small business, can be achieved through 
attention to selection and development of competent subordi- 

In some companies conscious attention to development 
appears unnecessary because the present organization is 
strong and operating effectively. There is no evidence of 
urgency. Whenever replacements are required for key posi- 
tions, someone always seems to be available and ready to 
move into new responsibilities. The chief operating executive 
concludes that good men have come along in the past, and 
there is no reason to expect that good men will not continue 



to arise as the occasion requires. Management complacency 
in this area usually requires the sudden and unexpected loss 
of two or three executives as a shock treatment. 

Managements, however, cannot assume that because good 
men have come along in the past, they will continue to do so. 3 
In nearly every company visited, executives reported that 
it had become unusual for men to rise from the work force 
into the executive levels of management. In one company 
the president stated that four out of the top five officers today 
had started at the bottom in the ranks of labor, but that he 
could not name more than one or two persons who had come 
into management positions from the hourly force during the 
last fifteen years. He explained that this situation was due 
largely to union seniority rules which require men to progress 
through each job classification, thus making it virtually 
impossible for outstanding men to acquire at an early age 
the experience needed for supervisory positions. Few hourly 
workers who reach the lower levels of supervision are young 
enough to be considered for promotion to the management 

In many companies the executives are aware of these 
barriers to the advancement of potential leaders in the hourly 
work force, and part of their development program includes 
efforts to keep the door open. But unless this practice is 
followed, the likelihood is that in companies with union 
organizations the hourly wage group will not constitute a 
significant source of executive personnel as it has in many 
companies in the past. 

Another reason why men will not acquire naturally the 
skills and capacities for leadership is that as companies have 
grown and become more complex, responsibilities within the 
organization have become more and more specialized. Com- 
panies today, more than ever before, are groups of specialists. 
This functional specialization has tended to limit the points 
of view of potential executives and to confine them to very 
narrow functions. The specialization goes beyond functional 

3 This aspect was developed in the Westinghouse study. Subsequent case studies 
of manufacturing companies confirmed the belief that the reasons are not peculiar 
to the electric power industry. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

specialization such as sales, production, and finance. In 
some companies the normal path of progression is up through 
some limited part of the sales or the production or the finance 
function. The result is that by the time a man has progressed 
upward in the organization and is a candidate for a position 
of wider responsibilities, it is too late in his career to give him 
actual experience in other areas of the business. Without 
conscious planning for the development of its personnel, 
many companies will continue to select specialists for broader 
administrative jobs and in a very real sense "run for luck." 

Another factor, akin to the specialized experience within the 
company which invalidates the assumption that good men 
will continue to arise, is the continuously increasing tendency 
toward narrow technical education. Today many companies 
define their requirements for new employees, not in terms of 
general engineering, for example, but in terms of engineers 
with certain specialized training. Many schools have modi- 
fied their curricula to meet these changed demands. As 
scientific and technical knowledge has increased, students as 
well as faculties have been forced to concentrate on special 
subjects — learning more and more about less and less. As 
Mr. Chester Barnard, then president of the New Jersey Tele- 
phone Company, pointed out in 1940: 

. . . while men are concentrating upon techniques, machines, 
processes and abstract knowledge, they are necessarily diverted 
to a considerable extent from experience with men, organiza- 
tions, and the social situations, the distinctive fields of applica- 
tion of leadership ability. Thus, at the most impressionable 
period they become so well grounded in "mechanical" attitudes 
. . . that they transfer these attitudes then and later toward men 
also. 4 

New men coming into manufacturing companies today 
may have greater technical capacities to meet the specialized 
requirements of their jobs than did the new men of twenty 
years ago, but as Chester Barnard points out, this increased 
technical capacity has been achieved at the price of sacrificing 
education in the skills involved in dealing with people. The 

4 Chester I. Barnard, The Nature of Leadership (Cambridge, Harvard University 
Press, 1940), p. 7. 



problems several companies have had in developing admin- 
istrators among their technical and research personnel 
bespeak the important educational job which was not done 
in school and now must be done in industry. 

To think, however, of an approach to development only 
in terms of providing successors to management is to neglect 
the full meaning of development. An important distinction 
needs to be drawn between development for advancement 
and development for growth. In many organization situa- 
tions immediate advancement may not be possible. In some 
companies the present key executives are relatively young; 
their expected retirements are twenty to twenty-five years 
ahead — with the result that they show little affirmative 
interest in developing subordinates. Besides having young 
key executives, furthermore, a company may be static, hold- 
ing its share of the market but not expanding. Growth op- 
portunities constitute the real incentive for able people in 
these situations. If this fact is not recognized, the organiza- 
tion soon lapses into a business civil service in which the 
typical employee's attitude is, "Do my job; stay out of trouble, 
and in thirty years I can retire." Able and progressive 
administrators are not likely to exist in such an organization. 

Development Programs 

It was found during this study that several companies pro- 
fessed to have thoroughgoing development programs. These 
were widely publicized through the press and company mag- 
azines and bulletins. Investigation of several of these com- 
panies disclosed, however, that there was an almost perfect 
inverse correlation between the extent to which a program 
was publicized and the extent to which an effective program 
was being practiced. 

There appeared to be several reasons for this situation. In 
one case the president of the company was a man with tre- 
mendous administrative capacity, apparently limitless energy, 
and other personal traits that enabled him to direct the opera- 
tions of a substantial enterprise without a strong supporting 
administrative organization. The key subordinates were 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

little more than agents of the president's decisions, and the 
publicity as to the development program was a mere cloak to 
disguise the chief operating executive's strong compulsion 
to run the whole show. In another company, as reported by 
one of its former key executives, the president was not secure 
in his own position and therefore did not want challengers 
to his authority. Whenever a vice president manifested any 
growth or acquired a following in the organization, he was 
discharged on specious grounds. In this situation, too, it was 
stated that the widespread publicity on "opportunities for all 
employees" was an effort at rationalization on the part of the 
chief operating executive. 

In another company the president recognized the im- 
portance of developing members of the organization and stated 
as a policy that he and all other key executives should develop 
their subordinates on the job. The president was sincere and 
was able to verbalize a policy on this matter. But his own 
personal operating conduct thereafter put the lie to his policy 
statement of intentions. Accordingly, his subordinates like- 
wise followed the pattern set by the president and lapsed into 
little more than lip service to real development of subordi- 

In some situations the company managements recognize 
that conscientious efforts should be made in their organiza- 
tions to provide opportunities for growth to the employees. 
They are reluctant, however, and this situation was found to 
be true in several companies, to formalize any program for 
fear of resistance from the employees. This feeling is partly 
due to the fact that these particular executives think of a 
development program as a training course. Again, such a 
feeling reflects a full appreciation of the danger of "training" 
people but neglects the desire of people to grow and develop. 
It is unfortunate that the word "training" has become con- 
fused with executive development. "Training" may be an 
acceptable word for efforts to improve physical skills such as 
the operation of production machines. Here there is one 
approved way of operating the equipment, and production 
goals can be met if all workers employ what has been decided 
to be the best method of operation. "Training" implies the 



existence of accepted methods as principles of operations. 
But the development of administrative skills involves few if any 
principles or operations which apply to everyone in adminis- 
trative work. The author has found ample evidence to sup- 
port a conviction that a majority of people in an organization 
resent "training" approaches whereas they readily accept 
efforts to help them grow and develop. 

A good example of the extent to which an abortive execu- 
tive "training" program has jeopardized subsequent manage- 
ment desires to develop key people was found in an eastern 
manufacturing company. Twenty years ago a training 
program was organized which included as trainees new college 
graduate employees and other employees earmarked for 
progression in the company. Each trainee was told that he 
had been carefully selected for the training course, which 
would consist of rotation in a series of jobs in the operating 
divisions. The vice president who related this experience 
stated, "When these crown princes arrived at the operating 
level, their cheeks were still wet with the headquarters' 
blessing." The impact of the trainees, who unfortunately 
had been led to believe they were crown princes, on the exist- 
ing organization was "shattering," and the program was 
quickly and quietly terminated. The older and key execu- 
tives in the company today, however, still remember the 
experience. Whenever a proposal is offered to consider the 
adoption of a program for the development of key people, 
these executives start their thinking by referring to the 
"training" experience. This unsuccessful training effort 
made such an impression on the members of management 
that, though the present key executives are extremely able 
and the company prospers, they have no idea whether able 
people are in the lower echelons of the company, or where 
they are. This may seem to be an unreal and extreme situa- 
tion, but many others substantially similar were found during 
the course of this study. The growth and development of 
executives have suffered because of the confusion arising out 
of the use of the word "training." 

In some companies the managements have been unwilling 
to inaugurate a program of development because they believe 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

the cost will be too high in terms of measurable benefits. It 
was noted earlier that measuring the results of development 
efforts is difficult, if not impossible. In one large company, 
however, where competition has caused an extreme cost 
consciousness among the management members, the director 
of executive development related the progress of the develop- 
ment to sales volume and labor and administration payroll 
costs. It happened that sales volume went up and payroll 
costs went down, and the director used these figures to support 
his contentions as to the value of the program. Usually, 
however, the possibilities of relating an executive development 
program to operating results are remote and probably invalid. 
The results of development are intangible and not easily 
recognized. The measurement of these results encounters 
the same "proof of performance" problems that a company 
legal department practicing preventive law meets. We never 
know what the costs would have been if certain actions had 
not been taken by the legal department. 

Some of the apprehension about the costs of a development 
program have also arisen out of misconceptions as to what 
such a program entails. The president of one company 
stated, for example, that the costs of a psychiatrist and the 
costs of psychological tests were greater than the possible 
benefits. Another executive said that everyone in his com- 
pany was busy on the job, and if half the staff spent one after- 
noon a week attending a lecture, "I'd hate to think what 
would happen to our profits." A third executive objected to 
what he considered would be necessary additions to the 
personnel department, which "is already too large, and 
besides, that is overhead which is allocated to my division." 
According to the thinking of still other executives, a program 
consisted of a series of conferences, "and we already spend too 
much time in conference and not enough getting things done." 

The discussion of company development practices in the 
following chapters will indicate, it is hoped, that a program 
must be adapted to each company's own requirements and 
may or may not include some of the features mentioned above 
which were alleged to be undesirable. Certainly, there will 
be costs if anything is done in this area, and certainly it is 



impossible to state that any company will immediately reap 
directly commensurate rewards from a program. But to 
neglect doing something about the growth and development 
of people is to deny the value of the organization of human 
beings. There is no single cost of a program. Each com- 
pany's management, in view of its own situation, must decide 
what the elements of its individual program need to be. 

Responsibility of Board of Directors 

It is generally accepted that one of the main responsibilities 
of the board of directors is to select the company's chief op- 
erating executive. 5 An implication of this function is that 
the board ought to know who in the organization could 
replace the president and what is being done currently to 
prepare candidates for the position should a selection become 
necessary. Since business corporations are created in per- 
petuity, in effect, therefore, the board should assure itself 
that as a matter of company policy men are being developed 
throughout the organization for growth in their present posi- 
tions and for progressively more responsible positions in the 
company. Lapses by individual boards in meeting this re- 
sponsibility are too common to enumerate. The full impact 
of their failure to look ahead is disclosed when the president 
suddenly and unexpectedly dies or becomes incapacitated. 
The scurrying and soul-searching that follow such an experi- 
ence sometimes shock the board of directors into assuring 
itself that "this will never happen again." It is easy, but 
dangerous, to become complacent when a healthy president 
is occupying the position. 

In a discussion of the board responsibility with directors of 
several large companies, it became apparent that this element 
of the board's function is frequently overlooked. One director 
stated that he knew some of the vice presidents "pretty well," 
either as co-members of the board or as officers who appeared 

B Melvin T. Copeland and Andrew R. Towl, The Board of Directors and Business 
Management (Boston, Division of Research, Harvard Business School, 1947), p. 4. 
"It is a responsibility of the board of directors to make sure that a competent 
executive is in charge of operations and that he has an organization adequate for 
handling the work." 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

from time to time before the board, but that he had not con- 
sidered the possibility of strengthening the capacities of the 
vice presidents, either in terms of their present jobs or as 
successors to the president. He added that he knew virtually 
no one below the level of the vice president and that he 
"doubted" that any program of development as such was in 
effect. Too few companies were studied to provide any 
basis for conclusions as to how general this deficiency is 
among manufacturing companies. Such a possible conclu- 
sion, however, is less important than recognition by alert 
board members that this is a matter which requires their 

The chairman of the board of a large eastern company, 
who inaugurated a thoroughgoing program of development 
during his tenure as president, stated that a strong president 
can do a great disservice to his company by not providing for 
the growth of subordinates. The stress and problems arising 
during the transition following the unexpected loss of the key 
man are not compensated for by the results of depending on 
the strong and indispensable man. He stated further, "A 
board makes a great mistake when it keeps a president who 
does not develop subordinates." Situations in business today 
will occur to the reader where the death of the company's 
leader is likely to have serious consequences. Corrective 
action is the responsibility of the members of the board of 
directors, individually and collectively. 

Purposes of the Report 

The purpose of this report is to present a critical appraisal 
of the growth and development methods found in the com- 
panies studied and to define some of the elements of a useful 
approach. Consideration of executive development gives 
rise to many questions, of which the following are typical: 
What is an executive? What are his capacities and skills? 
Is there an optimum combination of personal traits? Can 
these be defined and measured? What does an executive do? 
How does he do it? Can executive abilities be developed? 
How? What are the problems confronting the management 



of a company in which the decision has been made to "de- 
velop" organization personnel? These questions and many 
others occur in any discussion of executive development, and 
answers and part answers will be considered in the succeed- 
ing chapters. 

It must be remembered that this is basically a study of 
selected situations, that the evidence is drawn from operating 
businesses in which, as noted before, "something is being 
done" about the development of people. The following 
chapters will try to present in organized form what was 
found in the hope that (i) these findings will be helpful, and 
that (2) operating executives and directors will be stimulated 
to consider these results within the framework of their own 
experience and their own companies. We know relatively 
little about the growth and development of people, but over 
the years this area will no doubt be explored continuously. 
This report should be regarded not as final but as an executive 
development status report, circa 1949. 



The Requirements of Executive Positions 

Semantic problems, as became apparent very early in the 
study, constitute a major obstacle to understanding the impli- 
cations of executive development and represent the source of 
much of the confusion that exists. For example, words used 
to describe the executive or the executive function were found 
to have different meanings for different people. In trying to 
define "executive" we found that virtually every person asked 
included some unique elements. A search of literature on the 
subject provided no help, for there, too, was little agreement, 
and words seemed to convey different meanings to various 

Some writers draw lines through various planes on the 
business organization chart; only those occupying positions 
above the drawn line are described as "executives." Other 
students of the subject have spelled out in considerable detail 
the distinctions between an executive and a leader: "A leader 
develops personal loyalty but an executive develops organ- 
izational loyalty." Similar distinctions have been carefully 
established to characterize the administrator. In some com- 
panies executives are those on a headquarters or Class A pay- 
roll, or those who receive salary compensation above a stated 
amount. In one company those members of management 
who have been invited by a committee to lunch in the execu- 
tive dining room are executives; those who sit in the employee 
cafeteria are something other than executives. What they 
are was not too clear! These subtle distinctions, perhaps 
useful for some discussions, do not seem to serve any purpose 
in this study. Perhaps a large part of the semantic problem 
in this field arises from a failure to consider the purpose for 
which the definition is made. 

In this study we are concerned with the growth and develop- 
ment of people whose function is to get things done through 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

the efforts of other individuals. The study takes into account 
all levels of management because those who will occupy 
positions in the top two or three levels of management fifteen 
or twenty years from now are likely to be found in the lower 
levels today. What is or is not done during the next twenty 
years for the development of members of the lower-level 
personnel will determine in large part the degree of skill and 
capacity they will bring to the higher positions. It may well 
be that the man employed by a particular company tomorrow 
will be its president in twenty years. 

Accordingly, the many distinctions commonly drawn to 
describe separately the executive, the leader, and the admin- 
istrator will not be observed in this report. These terms will 
be used interchangeably to mean the performance of the 
function of getting things done through people. 

A more complete definition of the function with which we 
are concerned has been provided by Professors Glover and 
Hower. They state: "The administrator [the executive, the 
leader] occupies a position of responsibility for and to others 
in getting things done through group effort in organizations. 
The qualities which distinguish the administrator are his 
ability to think and act responsibly, to work cooperatively 
with others, and to provide others opportunities to work 
effectively and with satisfaction within the group." 1 A sub- 
stantially equivalent definition has been stated by Mr. Chester 
I. Barnard, President, New Jersey Bell Telephone Company: 
"Leadership refers to the quality of the behavior of individuals 
whereby they guide people or their activities in organized 
effort." 2 

This, then, is the function of the executive, the adminis- 
trator, the leader. But is it not possible to spell out in more 
detail what quantitative and qualitative characteristics the 
executive possesses? Is there not a set of personal factors 
which distinguishes the administrator from one who is ad- 

^John D. Glover and Ralph M. Hower, The Administrator (Chicago, Richard D. 
Irwin, Inc., 1949) pp. 2-3. 
2 The Nature of Leadership, p. 3. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The Mythology of the Ideal Executive 

Many businessmen and writers have described in consider- 
able detail the capacities of the ideal executive. Expressly or 
implicitly, the specifications are stated as attributes of success 
for all executive positions. These descriptions may be useful 
as broad standards for executives in general, but they are not 
useful for^the practical purposes of development of particular 
persons for particular positions in particular companies in 
particular situations. 

If, for example, anTeffort were made to extract the least 
common denominator of executive qualities found in execu- 
tives in fifty companies, we could compile a list which would 
probably include imagination, loyalty, ability to get along 
with people, and so on. But the ability to get along with 
people, for example, is not a precise, meaningful expression, 
because what is involved in getting along with people in one 
situation may be quite different from what is involved in 
getting along with people in another situation. The phrase 
has meaning only in the specific organizational situation in 
which it is found. The executive abilities and capacities exist 
not by themselves but in relation to the organizational en- 
vironment in which they are exercised. 

One student of the executive function states: "The findings 
suggest that leadership is not a matter of passive status, or of 
the mere possession of some combination of traits. It appears 
rather to be a working relationship among members of a 
group, in which the leader acquires status through active 
participation and demonstration of his capacity for carrying 
cooperative tasks through to completion." 3 Mr. Irving 
Knickerbocker, too, takes exception to the belief that a leader 
has certain quantities of certain qualities. He states: "The 
leader is a product not of his characteristics, but of his func- 
tional relationship to specific individuals in a specific situation. 
As a result, the variability of leaders' characteristics upsets 
all but the broadest statistical efforts at analysis." He adds: 
"The leader, realistically and factually, is not a person 

3 Ralph M. Stagdill, "Personal Factors Associated with Leadership: A Survey of 
the Literature," Journal of Psychology, January, 1948, Vol. 25, p. 66. 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

endowed with a list of characteristics which make him what 
he is." 4 

There are at least two main obstacles which preclude the 
formulation of a definitive check list of the characteristics of 
an executive. The first is the absence of any generally ac- 
cepted set of objective criteria as to what is a good executive. 
Such criteria are necessary to provide the basis for measuring 
the validity of any stated personal ingredients. 5 In the case of 
a workman, a bricklayer, for example, it is easy to measure 
his productivity by the number of bricks laid in one day. In 
the case of a salesman, it is possible to measure his success by 
a number of factors, for example, total sales, profit on those 
sales, rate of returned goods, new customers, bad debt losses 
on sales, expenses, and so forth. But when it comes to measur- 
ing the success of one who supervises others it becomes neces- 
sary to rely more and more on subjective measures of success, 
measures which are not concrete and are not easily reduced to 
mathematical terms. And as one goes higher in the levels 
of management, it becomes increasingly difficult to find objec- 
tive measures. This statement does not mean that there is no 
value in the company use of a list of qualities, but only em- 
phasizes the fact that the absence of objective criteria pre- 
cludes the creation of a single list of characteristics to be found 
in designated quantities in good executives in all companies. 

A second, and related, obstacle to the possibility of having 
a single check list of factors is that there is no such thing as the 
"executive position" or the "administrative position." Differ- 
ent positions in different companies have different technical 
and substantive job knowledge requirements. In addition, 
although there may be a general core of executive personal 
qualities, for example, imagination, adaptability and intel- 
lectual capacity, which are required for all executive positions, 
our present knowledge does not permit defining how much 
of what personal qualities are required for all executive posi- 
tions. In this consideration it should be noted that while 

4 Irving Knickerbocker, "Leadership: A Conception and Some Implications," 
The Journal of Social Issues, Vol. IV, No. 3, Summer 1948, pp. 30, 33. 

6 The problem of criteria for validation was presented by Dr. John G. Jenkins 
in "Validity for What?" Journal of Consulting Psychology, Vol. X, No. 2, March- 
April, 1946, p. 93. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

there has been progress in the measurement of personal qual- 
ities in people, there is not today any thoroughly dependable 
and accurate method. 

Not only are there differences in job requirements for posi- 
tions in various companies, but also there are different re- 
quirements sometimes for similar positions in the same com- 
pany. In one large manufacturing company, for instance, 
the position of manager of the geographical division nearest 
to the headquarters offices, the eastern division, required 
personal traits different from those of the manager on the 
West Coast. In this case the home office executives were 
available for frequent consultation on eastern division prob- 
lems and, more than that, they wanted to participate in the 
operations of the division. They explained that they wanted 
to "keep a hand in" operations and also that the eastern 
division provided a convenient control point where ideas 
could be tried out before adoption on a national scale. The 
West Coast division manager, on the other hand, because of 
the geographical separation from the home office, was re- 
quired to be self-reliant and to make many of his own decisions 
without the benefit of consultation. He stated that sometimes 
several days or weeks went by without his hearing from the 
home office executives. It was clear here that two men with 
completely different patterns of personal traits were fulfilling 
the requirements of their respective jobs. Different duties 
and different responsibilities were involved, and even though 
these two executives had the same title, Division Manager, 
different personal traits were required. 

These two obstacles, namely, the lack of criteria as to what 
a good executive is and the lack of uniformity in executive 
positions, would seem to deny the validity of any single list of 
personal traits. If the executive positions were identical and 
if objective criteria were established for a good executive, 
it might then be possible through research to refine the 
ingredients as for a chemical compound. Unfortunately, 
or perhaps fortunately, it is not this easy. No list or lists of 
characteristics were found during the course of this study 
which reflected such an effort. There is no such thing as the 
"ideal executive." This conclusion does not mean, of course, 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

that the research efforts in this field have been fruitless and 
that we know nothing about executive traits. It means only 
that there is no single quantitative list of qualities for an 
executive. 6 

We stress this point because of the not uncommon belief 
by some businessmen that somewhere someone has such a 
definitive list of characteristics. In some cases business 
executives have been exploited by commercially minded 
students of the executive function. The president of one 
company stated that he had purchased a "pink pill" list as 
part of a development program, and after a trial period at 
what he described as "some expense," he discarded the list. 
He added that "those who over-simplify this problem do a 
real disservice to managements. There may be some common 
executive traits, but for every one alleged to be common, we 
found 50 exceptions — exceptions in that men without the 
required trait were doing good jobs." 

The conclusion, therefore, is that for the purposes of pro- 
viding for the growth and development of executives, each 
company must study and define the technical knowledge and 
personal characteristics required for each administrative 
position in its organization. 

Reasons for Defining Job Requirements 

Our investigation of the development practices of manufac- 
turing companies indicates that the three following main 
needs are served by the definitions by individual companies 
of the requirements for each position: 

1 . To provide a specific basis, a goal, for the develop- 
ment program; 

2. To provide objective specifications for selections for 

6 Mr. Chester I. Barnard stated: "Leadership appears to be a function of at least 
three complex variables — the individual, the group of followers, the conditions. 
Now the points to note here are two. First, these are variables obviously within 
wide limits, so that leadership may in practice mean an almost infinite number of 
possible combinations. Second, if we are to have a good understanding of leader- 
ship, we shall need a good understanding of individuals, of organizations, and of 
conditions, and of their interrelationships so far as relevant to our topic. Do we 
have that now? I am sure we do not." The Nature of Leadership, p. 4. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

3. To provide impersonal guides for the employment 
of the new personnel. 

A Goal for the Development Program 

In several companies the managements seemed to be 
more interested in doing something about executive develop- 
ment programs than they were in developing executives. In 
one middle western company, the Weston Corporation, the 
president concluded, just after the war, that one of the com- 
pany's major problems was to strengthen the organization 
through a development program. He asked the vice president 
in charge of personnel to poll the company executives as to 
the "qualities" of an executive. He believed that the con- 
sensus would provide a list of capacities which would then 
serve as the objective of the program. The lists were prepared 
by about ten of the top men in the company, and when they 
were summarized it was found that one of the most common 
qualities stated as necessary for an executive was the ability 
to speak effectively before large groups of people. With 
this clue as to what to aim for in a development program, the 
president made arrangements with a local school for speech 
lessons. Over the next two years about 1 35 members of the 
management group attended a series of speech lessons. 

When the classes were completed, there was considerable 
improvement in the extent to which members of this manage- 
ment group could speak effectively. It was clear that almost 
everyone who participated gained some benefit. "But," 
stated the president, "while we were treating all our key 
people with speech medicine, they were dying from other 
diseases. We concluded then and there that all our people 
did not need the same things to strengthen their weaknesses. 
We may not have the best management organization in the 
industry, but I am sure our men can outspeak any other 

This situation and others which are similar point up several 
significant factors in regard to a company development pro- 
gram. In the first place, it is necessary to define clearly what 
the objectives of the program are before it is begun. These 
objectives cannot be stated broadly as "to develop people," 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

but rather, they must be specific and detailed. As a result 
of this experience, the president of the company discussed 
above remarked, "You have to know what you are trying to 
do before you start trying to do it." This apparently obvious 
truism was neglected in several companies. 

Secondly, since positions at the management level are 
different, a list of general qualities does not suffice as develop- 
ment objectives for all the positions in the organization. In 
the Weston Corporation, for instance, although the develop- 
ment in public speech-making of the key production people 
contributed something to their abilities as executives, speech- 
making was not an important part of their job responsibilities. 
There were other more important requirements of their 
positions toward which development attention might have 
been devoted with greater direct benefit. The experience of 
the Weston Corporation and others is partly the result of relying 
upon the misleading idea that an executive is made up of 
certain definitive qualities: If we can define them, we then 
have our objective. These general lists are not useful inas- 
much as they do not take into account that administrative 
job requirements are different. 

Thirdly, it should be noted that people are different and 
that development is an individual process. There may be 
some areas in which it is possible to get the benefits of a group 
approach, but in general the complex personal and experience 
abilities found in people require that development be re- 
garded as an individual effort. Again, in the Weston Corpora- 
tion all members of the personnel probably gained something 
from the speech lessons, even those who possessed some skills 
in this area. But, also again, the requirement that all person- 
nel be given the same speech medicine overlooked the possibil- 
ity of overcoming some of the weaknesses of members of man- 
agement who already were able and skillful public speakers. 

In the fourth place, the spelling out of the experience and 
personal requirements of each position in the organization 
sharply focuses management's attention on the importance of 
developing men now for the positions they may occupy later. 
For instance, a sales department head in a large middle 
western company stated that if he could go back twenty years 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

and arrange a different job progression up through the organ- 
ization to his present position, he would fill in two or three 
gaps in his experience, gaps which could have been avoided 
with some planning and which, in the opinion of the depart- 
ment head, make him less well qualified for his position than 
he thinks he should be. Spelling out the job requirements for 
a position helps to avoid the blind spots reported by this 
department head. Rarely do men acquire the job experience 
requirements of top-level positions by chance. A definition 
of these requirements makes it possible to plan the experience 
progression of able men and to anticipate the filling of im- 
portant posts with qualified personnel. It should be recog- 
nized, of course, that it is not always possible to achieve per- 
fection in providing progressive jobs for the sake of the bene- 
fits to be derived from experience. The exigencies of the 
business many times prevent the exposure of key men to 
desired experiences. The existence of a blueprint of job re- 
quirements, however, does contribute to the assurance of 
better qualified men than results where there is no objective 

In the North Company, for instance, where no specific job 
requirements were defined, the executive vice president dis- 
cussed the way in which he secured the variety of experiences 
he believed necessary to arrive at this goal as a top officer. 
He had joined the North Company 28 years before, after grad- 
uation from college. His first job was in the factory, and 
during the following 10 years he managed to get transferred 
to work in all its major operations. These moves were not 
planned by the management but by the man himself. Next, 
he secured a transfer to the sales department at a reduced 
salary, but over the succeeding 10-year period he again 
arranged for moves to the various functions of the sales depart- 
ment. Later, he was asked to work as a coordinating officer 
between sales and production in a subsidiary of the parent 
company where he was soon promoted to the position of 
executive vice president and then president. When the 
position of executive vice president of the North Company 
became vacant, he moved up and occupied that position at 
the time of this study. After explaining his own planned 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

progression through the company, he stated that, in his 
opinion, this was the ideal experience to qualify him for the 
present job and that the goal of the company's development 
program was to plan and help others in the lower levels to 
gain the same benefits. Blind spots in experience can be 
avoided by a predetermination of what the desired require- 
ments of the various positions are. Without such a blueprint 
of requirements, only a few exceptional men will exercise the 
foresight to "arrange" a useful progression in experience up 
through the organization. 

Specifications for Promotion Selection 

The definition of the requirements of each position pro- 
vides a standard or guide when management makes the 
decision as to which of several candidates should be promoted. 
If the specifications with regard to experience and personal 
factors have been carefully determined, the selection process 
becomes more objective and is likely to be accomplished 
more fairly. 

A decision in selection is essentially a prediction that the 
man chosen for the job will perform satisfactorily. In the 
manufacturing companies visited many executives noted that 
in their experiences numerous selections for promotion had 
been made with "pious hopes that the man would work into 
the job"; they added that more frequently than not, he 
didn't. When selections are made without apparent regard 
for the experience of the man and the personal requirements 
of the job, the morale of the other employees suffers immeas- 
urable but real damages. Fair treatment and opportunities 
for promotion are usually of higher priority than salary in polls 
of employee attitudes, and, if, when vacancies occur in higher 
positions, these important elements are jeopardized by what 
is regarded as discriminatory selection, much harm, sometimes 
irreparable, is done to the organization. 

Two instances illustrate the damage to morale which 
resulted when consideration of the job requirements were 
disregarded. In the first, the management of the Hubbard 
Company followed, with rare exception, the policy of pro- 
moting men from within the organization. There were a few 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

instances, when the company diversified into new fields, 
where men from specialized functions outside the company 
were employed. Key employees accepted these appoint- 
ments with understanding, for the technical experience and 
knowledge needed were different from those found within the 
company. In 1948, however, the head of one of the major 
operating subsidiaries resigned, thus creating an opportunity 
for a promotion selection. When it was announced by the 
president that an employee from another subsidiary in an 
unrelated field had been selected to fill the vacancy, the 
morale of the organization, as reported by the president, 
"sagged." He stated that key employees in the affected 
subsidiary believed that their new manager, with no experi- 
ence in their operations, was not qualified to hold the position. 
All his experience with the Hubbard Company had been with 
elements of the procurement function in specialized non- 
supervisory work, whereas his new position required adminis- 
trative capacities in directing an organization of 750 people 
and an understanding of highly technical processes. After 
one year on the job, the new manager was relieved and an 
experienced man from within the subsidiary was promoted to 
the position. The president of the Hubbard Company, after 
outlining this situation, stated that he had overlooked com- 
pletely the administrative and technical experience require- 
ments of the job. The man first chosen had done an excellent 
job in procurement in the analysis of raw material markets 
and was commonly regarded as "an up-and-coming, bright 
young man — a comer." The president, however, neglected 
to match the demonstrated abilities of the man against the 
requirements of the job. 

In this case it was good neither for the man nor for the 
organization to select him for a position for which he had no 
proven capacities or experience. Had there been some 
description or conscious awareness of the job requirements 
here, it is likely, or at least possible, that a comparison of these 
requirements with the experience and qualities of the man 
chosen would have resulted in a different selection decision. 

It would be an extreme oversimplification to ascribe the 
morale problem in this organization to the decision on selec- 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

tion outlined by the president. Morale is certainly the result 
of many factors and many interrelationships, and the facts 
of this particular situation were suggested by the president 
of the Hubbard Company to illustrate what he regarded as 
his error in disregarding the job requirements when making a 
selection decision. He believed, however, that there was a 
direct cause and effect relationship here between the morale 
in the organization and what turned out to be an unwise 
selection decision. 

Another striking instance in which the selection decision 
was reported to have affected a group's morale was in the 
Webber Company. Here the head of the industrial relations 
department died unexpectedly; and with no adequate replace- 
ment available in this small department of five men and three 
secretaries, the president looked elsewhere in the company. 
From time to time during the preceding years the president 
had had occasion to meet and come to know one of the abler 
salesmen in a branch sales office. This man had won several 
sales contests and was frequently invited to represent his 
branch at sales meetings held in the home office. In recount- 
ing this situation, the president stated that the salesman had 
an excellent sales record and got along very well with his 
customers. He was alert, and besides "any intelligent man 
ought to be able to direct an industrial relations department." 
The salesman was selected and moved to the headquarters 
office. Other employees of the department recognized that 
none of them had the experience or age to fill the position, 
but when the branch salesman was selected, they became 
discouraged and unhappy. One employee remarked: "Here 
we have a new boss with no experience or training in industrial 
relations or production work. Our main problems arise in 
the production end of the business, and the boss doesn't know 
a fork lift truck from a stamping machine. It will take us 
years to educate him !" It became apparent during the follow- 
ing year that the salesman would not "work out" as the 
president had hoped, and he was relieved and returned to a 
sales branch. A mature and experienced man from outside 
the company was hired and, according to the president, he 
was working out very well. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

In this latter situation the bad morale did not result from 
resentment by the other employees because one of them was 
not promoted; rather it resulted from the president's lack of 
awareness that the job of director of industrial relations had 
certain specific and desirable requirements. Again, this is an 
oversimplification of a complex morale problem and is cited 
here, as reported by the president, to emphasize the im- 
portance of taking into account the requirements of the job 
in the making of selection decisions. We recognize that it is 
not always possible to find and select the ideal man for the 
job, but the definitive knowledge of the requirements of the 
position serves as a useful management tool to avoid the kind 
of situations just described. 

Many other instances were found which emphasized the 
same concept. In one company a good specialty salesman 
was selected as division manager, a job which required ad- 
ministrative capacities and experience. These were forgotten 
when the selection decision was made by the president, who 
stated: "We assumed that a good salesman would be a good 
division manager. We know now that these are two com- 
pletely different jobs." In another company a salesman was 
appointed branch manager because "he was a star salesman, 
and we believed that such a good man ought to be able to 
help others to sell. He couldn't, and is back doing a great job 
on the road." This type of situation demonstrates the short- 
comings of the almost axiomatic belief of some executives that 
because a man is good in one field, he will be good in another. 
Some men, it is true, are remarkably versatile and can perform 
successfully in many different kinds of jobs. Their personal 
abilities are adaptable to many job requirements. Such 
examples probably represent the source of the axiom. The 
experience of many of the companies studied for this report 
indicates, however, that a more useful axiom states: "Admin- 
istrative jobs vary among companies, and the selection decision 
can best be made in terms of the specific technical and ad- 
ministrative requirements of the specific position." 

The executives of several manufacturing companies ob- 
served that they did have job requirements in mind when they 
selected men for promotion. Investigation disclosed, however, 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

that the standards used were very general, with the result that 
there were wide differences of opinion within a single com- 
pany as to the meanings of the terms used in stating the stand- 
ards. In one company it was reported that a division sales 
manager should be "vice presidential timber, wide-awake, a 
good salesman, and have sound business judgment." Inter- 
views with some of the executives as to what these terms meant 
in appraising various candidates revealed about as many 
different interpretations as there were executives attempting 
to apply the general terms to a specific selection problem. 

In another company two candidates from the organization 
were brought to the home office to be interviewed for a posi- 
tion as assistant to the vice president of production. One of 
the candidates had had thirty years' experience with the com- 
pany, whereas the other man, several years younger, had been 
employed by the company a little over two years. In a 
discussion of this selection case with the five key executives 
who made the interviews, it became clear that each executive 
used his own ideas as to what were the age, experience, and 
personal trait requirements of the position. If there had been 
in this situation some previously agreed-upon standard or 
description of requirements, it would have been possible to 
compare the five interview results with the standard. The 
experience of many companies clearly indicates the desirabil- 
ity of such job specifications. 

Impersonal Guides for the Employment of New Personnel 

The third main reason for defining job requirements is 
that the specifications outlined serve as the standard when 
personnel are interviewed for employment. Spelling out the 
elements of the job requirements assists all executives who are 
concerned with the selection of new personnel. "Specifica- 
tions are desirable," said one executive, "for the same reason 
that raw material specifications are useful to our procurement 
division. There probably are purchasing officers whose 
general standards and personal judgment would assure 
adequate materials. But we are a lot surer with specifications, 
and the same thing applies to the procurement of personnel." 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The existence of capable, promotable people in the organ- 
ization twenty years from now requires a pipeline flow in at 
the bottom of people who are developable. In some com- 
panies the recruitment of able young people has been neglect- 
ed, with the result that today the lower and middle manage- 
ment segments of these organizations are weak. In one 
company an intensive effort was made about thirty to thirty- 
five years before to secure what the current president described 
broadly as "young men with bumps of curiosity, imagination, 
and intelligence." Today the recruits of thirty years ago are 
department heads and vice presidents. The existence of this 
level of desirable men has meant that over the past several 
years able men have occupied the positions of responsibility. 
With their retirement in sight, the officers began to give 
thought to replacements. They made an inventory of all 
personnel believed to possess management capacity potential, 
and they found that very few able men were available for 
promotion to important middle-management positions. Fur- 
ther, they found that the responsibility for recruiting men 
had been carried for several years by a young employee in 
the personnel department. This lack of attention to the secur- 
ing of able persons to come in at the bottom has resulted in 
the progression of mediocre people in the organization so that 
today the company faces a serious shortage of men of man- 
agerial caliber. 

In several companies studies have been made of the indi- 
vidual job specifications for sales, production, accounting, 
finance, and other positions to determine what seemed to be 
the personnel factors (age, intelligence, and personality) 
required for success in these various functions. When these 
factors were defined, they represented the standards against 
which all candidates for employment were appraised. 

In a large eastern manufacturing company, for example, an 
analysis of the various production job specifications resulted 
in the following list of characteristics to be looked for in 
candidates for employment as potential executives. 

Personal Qualifications of New Employees: 
i . He is intellectually competent, 
a. Highly intelligent, 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

b. Creative, has an active, inquisitive mind which sees 
the need for improvement and searches until a way 
is found to effect the improvement, 

c. Thinks clearly, logically, concisely, and expresses 
himself accordingly, 

d. Adaptable (capable of dealing with emergencies), 

e. Has drive (in the sense of both energy and persever- 

f. Has judgment — common sense, 

g. Has self-confidence (not the loud kind), 
h. Decisive, 

i. Open-minded. 

2. He is emotionally stable. 

a. Consistent (people know what to expect from him), 

b. Has executive temperament — force — element of 

3. He has skill in human relations. 

a. Willing to cooperate and work with others, 

b. Has insight and awareness of others, 

c. Open (neither blunt nor insincere). 

4. He has the ability to analyze, plan, organize, and delegate. 

5. He has obvious good health. 

6. He has a degree in engineering or business administration. 
Note: The above specifications do not attempt to include the 

more ordinary requirements such as honesty, high 
scholastic average, or participation in extracurricular 
activities, most of which are in evident possession of 
those meeting the foregoing qualifications. 

In this same company an analysis of the sales department 
jobs resulted in the following list of desired characteristics: 
The Standard for Sales Personnel: 

a. He possesses an active, searching mind; 

b. He has imagination and an inquiring mind coupled with 
initiative — giving indications of ability to do practical 
creative thinking and of a mind to seek and find new ideas 
and translate them into practical application; 

c. He indicates that he exercises judgment and common sense 
in reaching decisions; 

d. He has ability to express himself clearly, concisely, and 
logically — orally and in writing; 

e. He exhibits a willingness to cooperate with others and to 
adapt himself to new and changing conditions; 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

f. He has the ability to understand and follow instructions; 

g. He exhibits an interest in our business; 
h. He has a sense of proportion; 

i. He has force or the elements of leadership (executive tem- 
perament) . 

It has been difficult to measure the tangible benefits of 
these two sets of specifications in the company's operations. 
But, in addition to the enthusiastic approval of the executives 
who are asked to make the appraisals of potential adminis- 
trators, it was stated that the annual turnover of sales and 
production personnel has been reduced below 7%. This was 
contrasted with a turnover rate of 25% to 30% a year before 
the company used any detailed specifications. 

In another large manufacturing company in the East, the 
Frank Company, the annual turnover of personnel in some 
branches of the sales department ranged from 35% to 48%. 
In this company the sales organization was broken down into 
six regions, the managers of which supervised about ten 
branches each. Every one of the 62 branch managers hired 
his own salesmen, no standard list of specifications being 
provided by either the home office sales department or the 
regional sales offices. As a result each of the 62 branch 
managers had his own ideas as to what qualifications a Frank 
Company salesman should possess. Immediately after the 
war the high turnover in some branches was explained as due 
to "unrest and dissatisfaction among the returning G. I.'s." 

This possible justification was accepted for two years, but, 
when in 1 948 the same high rates of turnover persisted in the 
same branches, an executive from the headquarters office 
started an investigation. He made three significant findings. 
First, in those branches where the turnover was highest, the 
branch managers used superficial, specious standards in 
employing salesmen and devoted very little time to the secur- 
ing and interviewing of possible employees. In one branch 
the manager refused to hire college graduates and insisted 
that the "salesmen in his branch should have experience 
behind the retail counter selling to shoppers." In another 
branch the primary criterion was that the prospective sales- 
man must be more than 35 years old; "No youngsters for me," 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

said the branch manager. Other branches found through 
experience that the strenuous sales job in this business required 
the energy and stamina of younger men. 

The second finding from the investigation was that it cost 
more than $5,500 to hire a salesman and then lose him after 
six months. This cost figure included only direct costs, to 
which had to be added the immeasurable intangible losses 
resulting from a poor selection. Direct costs included the 
individual salesman's salary, car and travel expenses, a three- 
week training school, and the two-week salary and expenses 
of a sales supervisor who accompanied the salesman on his 
first trip through the territory. Intangible costs, which could 
not be measured accurately, were the loss of customer goodwill 
and the loss of sales volume to competitors. 

Thirdly, the relatively low standards used by branch man- 
agers resulted not only in a high turnover rate for salesmen 
employed, but also in a dearth of candidates for promotion to 
administrative positions. 

This investigation in the Frank Company has been followed 
by a further study, still under way, which is attempting to 
pool the experience of all branch managers for the definition 
of specifications to be used in the employment of all new 
salesmen. The top sales executives of the Frank Company 
recognize the value of permitting branch managers to do their 
own hiring, but they are now firmly convinced that the branch 
managers can do a better job of selection if they all use a 
company standard list of specifications. 

Furthermore, the use of a standard list when employing new 
men may be a valuable help in overcoming the biases and 
prejudices of those who assist in the selection job by interview- 
ing applicants. These biases are often cleverly disguised by 
detailed explanations as to the reasons for recommending or 
not recommending the employment of particular men. In 
one company, for instance, the president has been personally 
influential in the hiring of 14 men during the last five years. 
When he and "his boys" get together, the assemblage re- 
sembles a team of professional football players; every man is 
more than six feet in height and all have strong physical char- 
acteristics. Inquiries as to the reasons for employing various 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

members of this group bring out many reasons, none of which 
include physical stature and appearance. Further discussion 
with other executives in the company, however, disclosed that 
the president believes executives are strong men, and, despite 
the proffered reasons for employment, he unconsciously dis- 
qualifies any short or slightly statured men, and requires 
that his men be big. 

Besides the biases and prejudices relating to physical size, 
there are other superstitions which are dangerous clues to 
administrative ability. Dr. Robert N. McMurry discusses 
some of these in an article in Sales Management: 

Typical superstitions are: 

i . A person whose eyes are close together is dishonest. 

2. A limp handshake indicates a weak character. 

3. A square jaw indicates a strong character. 

4. Tall, vigorous men are better salesmen because they 
are impressive. 

5. Men with a cast in their eyes are not to be trusted. 

6. A receding chin indicates lack of sales aggressiveness. 

7. Persons who do not have perfect command of English 
cannot sell. 

The dangerous aspect about judging applicants on the basis 
of appearance, unconscious biases or the commonly accepted 
superstitions, is that they may on rare occasions turn out to be 
correct .... because of one lucky hit, the screener will there- 
after, consciously or unconsciously, rule out all sales applicants 
except those with height, vigor, and bass voices, thereby com- 
pounding and perpetuating an error while losing potentially 
good men for the company. 7 

It is unlikely that any mechanical device such as a statement 
of job requirements will overcome the prejudices and super- 
stitions of those who interview prospective employees. A 
statement of this kind does provide, however, an outline of 
desired traits and capacities upon which interview attention 
and subsequent discussion may be centered. All the execu- 
tives who interview candidates will use the same standard of 
requirements, and it becomes the responsibility of the person 
in authority to assure consideration of pertinent data. 

7 Robert N. McMurry, "Hunch and Prejudice in Hiring: The Crux of Manpower 
Failures," Sales Management, November 10, 1948. 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

In one medium-size company in the South, for example, 
detailed job standards were used for the interviewing of all 
new men. The headquarters sales organization directed 29 
branch offices, and each branch manager selected, subject to 
headquarters approval, the salesmen for his branch. Of the 
salesmen candidates who were sent to the home office for 
interviews, about 25% were rejected. The executive vice 
president, who organized and supervised the interviewing 
and final employment procedure, stated that even with a list 
of specifications as a guide, one or two executives in the organ- 
ization continued to manifest deep-seated prejudices against 
certain kinds of persons. The other executives, however, 
found the standards useful and were able to be objective in 
their appraisals. "A real advantage of the specifications," 
reported the executive vice president, "is that each executive 
who interviews men, in his own way, tries to find out what 
kind of a man is before him in terms of our standards of em- 
ployment. When we get together later, we can all talk about 
one factor at a time. The executives who participate will 
differ as to their evidence on the various specifications, but 
out of the combined effort we think we do a better job than 
we used to when every interviewer was on his own." 

An additional value of specifications in the employment of 
men is that the standards reduce to concrete and meaningful 
terms broad, general statements of desired capacities. A vice 
president of one company stated, "We want all new men to be 
potential vice presidents or presidents." Elaboration of this 
standard in terms of personal abilities proved to be equally 
general. Another executive said that his company wanted 
good men. The definition of "good" resulted in other collec- 
tive specifications which could mean many things to the 
executives attempting to apply this standard. 

Some administrators have an extraordinary capacity to 
size up men in terms of their own standards and have impres- 
sive records on the selection of able people. Many times they 
are unable to express what it is that distinguishes the able from 
the less able, but their "feel" of the interview situation enables 
them to make wise and discriminating recommendations for 
the employment of personnel. Many others, however, pride 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

themselves on their ability to size up men, although investiga- 
tion of their records raises questions as to the validity of their 

An executive of a large middle western company stated 
that his years of experience in the business made it possible 
for him to size up a man and decide within ten minutes 
whether he would be a useful member of the organization. 
He cited several examples of men now holding key positions 
whom he had hired over the years. Other executives of the 
company pointed out later, however, that the key men cited 
were the stars and exceptions to the selection record of the 
executive under discussion. He had neglected to mention the 
dozens of men who had not worked out so well. 

An important consideration in the establishment of stand- 
ards for the employment of new personnel is whether to have a 
single set of specifications, for all new sales personnel, for 
example, or whether to use several sets which will provide men 
with different promotion potentials. Some companies employ 
new salesmen in terms of the immediate requirements of the 
job to be done, and they do not consider the problem of pro- 
viding promotable people with sales experience for higher 
sales department positions. The usual result of this policy 
is that when it becomes necessary to fill a branch or division 
sales manager's job, qualified personnel are not to be found 
within the organization. In one company which followed 
this policy the sales manager explained that they made enough 
mistakes, by underestimating men, to assure an adequate 
supply of promotable people for higher sales positions. At 
best, however, it is questionable whether a sufficient flow of 
competent personnel will result from this practice. 

The opposite extreme was found in a medium-size middle 
western company. This company employed new personnel 
for sales in terms of a standard that was expected to assure the 
company of men each one of whom was capable of becoming 
vice president in charge of sales. An extremely careful 
screening and interviewing procedure was used in an effort 
to get the highest quality of personnel. The same policy was 
in effect for employment in production, finance, and other 
functional positions. The executives of this company believed 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

that if company positions were filled with top-notch personnel, 
the resulting intense competition among employees would 
produce a reservoir of promotable people for the higher 
key jobs. 

In the Charles Company a middle position prevailed. Here 
the vice president of sales wished to maintain a relatively 
stable salesforce that would create strong relationships with 
the company's customers. Since he believed that it was 
important for the customers to know the salesmen well, he 
therefore wanted a large proportion of his men to be career 
road salesmen. He recognized, however, that some men with 
field sales experience were required for supervisory and ad- 
ministrative positions. Accordingly, when it was necessary 
to employ new personnel for the sales department, he studied 
the current situation and decided whether to employ new men 
as career salesmen or as salesmen with potential for higher 
sales department positions. 

Certainly, there is no single right solution to this problem 
of different sets of specifications for new personnel. The 
availability of promotable personnel, the kind of sales or 
production job to be done, the business expansion or con- 
traction possibilities, and many other related factors will vary 
among companies and will have a bearing on the policy to 
be adopted. The problem was raised and commented upon 
briefly here to suggest that in each company consideration 
should be given to the importance of deciding the quality of 
men to be employed and the need of some job specification 

Procedure for Defining Job Specifications 

Inasmuch as there is no single set of specifications for the 
executive position, the administrative position, it is necessary 
that in each company the individual jobs be regarded as 
involving unique responsibilities and unique specifications. 
To be sure, there are common elements to be found in the 
requirements for the position of sales manager in Company A 
and in Company B. Nevertheless, there are sure to be 
sufficient differences in the jobs so that each must be looked 
at by itself. In some organizations efforts have been made 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

to adopt the written details of positions of other similar com- 
panies, but without exception these were discarded because 
"they just did not fit our situation." 

The executives in one large eastern manufacturing com- 
pany, the Wallace Company, started the process of defining 
job specifications by writing out the responsibilities of all 
administrative positions in the existing organization chart. 
They explained the purpose of this initial step as an effort to 
define clearly organization responsibilities and relationships 
and to determine what functional business experience was 
involved for each position. If the director of advertising and 
promotion, for example, did not report directly to the presi- 
dent, as is the case in some organizations, but rather to the 
sales manager, this was a factor to be taken into account when 
the job experience requirements for the sales manager's 
position were defined later. Clear descriptions of the respon- 
sibilities of each administrative position were regarded as 
prerequisites to the definition of job specifications. 

An example of the detailed description of the responsibil- 
ities of a subsidiary manager was provided by a large middle 
western company. 



i. Participates with the home office in the long-range 
planning for the improvement of the business, and in the 
development of company policies, programs, and 

2. Responsible for all the combined responsibilities of the 
Merchandise Manager, Operating Manager, Controller 
and Personnel Manager, and supervises, directs, and 
coordinates their efforts to carry out successfully their 
responsibilities to attain a combined satisfactory opera- 
tion and performance of the business. 

3. Conducts weekly meeting with members of his staff to 
review the week's performance on all the important 
elements of the business. Directs his management group 
in the preparation of plans for the elimination of unsat- 
isfactory performances. 

4. Holds monthly meetings with his management group to 
review and appraise the month's performance in relation 
to plans and objectives. 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

5. Conducts weekly meetings with members of his staff and 
department managers to review customer service per- 
formance. Through his organization, requires fulfill- 
ment of the Company's service objectives and directs a 
program for corrective action where performance is 

6. Is held personally accountable for carrying out the 
Company's policies throughout his organization, with 
particular emphasis on customer service, labor relations, 
discipline, the maintenance of properties and equipment, 
and the observance of approved company standards. 

7. Contributes toward improving the personnel of the 
organization as a whole by constantly requiring that 
there be brought into the organization high caliber, 
intelligent, and capable people. 

8. Is responsible for the execution of these plans in his 
territory and personally devotes a sufficient amount of 
his time to determine that programs agreed upon by the 
Management are effectively carried out in his subsidiary. 

9. Since successful Management interprets itself into satis- 
factory performance profit-wise, he is responsible for 
the net profit performance of his subsidiary, with par- 
ticular emphasis on those elements that are directly 
within his control. 

In one company the management recognized that the 
organization structure was adjusted to accommodate the 
peculiar requirements of certain of its key people. The present 
executive vice president, for example, directed only three of 
the five major departments because his previous experience 
did not include work with the two other rather specialized 
functions. Reporting to the president were these two depart- 
ment heads, as well as the executive vice president and three 
special staff officers. It was acknowledged that the present 
structure was less desirable than one in which the five depart- 
ment heads reported to the executive vice president. Accord- 
ingly, when written descriptions of job responsibilities were 
made, they were defined in terms of an organization structure 
believed "most desirable" by the management. 

The managements of several companies have created what 
they describe as "ideal organization charts" for their respec- 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

tive companies. They stated that their present charts had 
shortcomings, but that changing was a slow process because 
of the people involved. The development of an ideal chart 
served as an objective toward which moves could be made 
when there were changes in executive personnel. This refine- 
ment in the approach to spelling out job responsibilities might 
be useful in companies where significant adaptations have 
been made to meet the capacities and abilities of the people 
presently occupying the key positions. 

After the job responsibilities were defined for each position, 
the next step in the formulation of job specifications was to 
determine for each position the experience, age, and other 
personal factors believed to be desirable. Two types of ap- 
proach to accomplishing this step were found in the companies 
studied. In the first, analyses were made of the men who 
occupied or had occupied the various positions in the organ- 
ization. Their experiences, education, and personal traits 
were studied to try to determine what factors were important 
in the satisfactory performance of each job. Men who were 
regarded as having done a successful job, as well as those who 
had not performed well, were considered to determine 
whether certain of the elements were useful to distinguish 
them. This approach was based on the idea that if it is 
possible to find a pattern of experience and personal factors 
for each position in the organization, it is likely that men with 
substantially equivalent qualifications will do "good" jobs. 
It was not always possible to gather a sufficient amount of 
information for each of the positions in the organization, and 
in these cases those familiar with the nature of the jobs were 
asked for their conclusions on job requirements. 

In the Wallace Company analyses were made of all admin- 
istrative positions, and the following is the resulting statement 
of qualifications for a subsidiary manager. 


Minimum Qualifications 

i. Education College graduate with major in business 

administration, or the equivalent in prac- 
tical business experience. 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

2 . Experience 

3. Knowledge 

4. Ability 
and Skill 

5. Personal 


6. Physical 


Five years' successful experience including 
Merchandise Manager, Operating Man- 
ager, or Controller. 

Must have an appreciation of good mer- 
chandise and good customer service. 
Must have a good working knowledge of 
all phases of subsidiary activities. Should 
be thoroughly conversant with company 
policies and must understand and accept 
company objectives and standards. 
Ability to plan and organize work, super- 
vise and direct people, delegate responsi- 
bility and authority wisely, and secure 
performance. Must be able to interpret 
company policies intelligently, and use 
good judgment in making decisions. 
Must be able to apply himself to details 
while directing a large organization. 
Forceful leadership qualities. Analytical, 
thorough, cooperative, and aggressive. 
Must have good expression orally and in 
writing. A pleasing personality which 
inspires confidence, loyalty, and enthusi- 
asm. High personal standards. 
Good health and businesslike appearance. 

The management of the Acme Company, which followed 
the same method of determining specifications for each posi- 
tion, defined the requirements of a division sales manager as 

Qualifications for Position: 

1 . Experience in selecting and training able men. 

2. Successful completion of assignments devised to show 
creative ability, writing ability, analytical thinking, 
judgment and common sense, and capacity for leadership. 

3. Tangible proof of useful ideas. 

4. Successful record in all phases of territorial operation. 

5. Experience in market research and test selling in the field. 

In some companies the specifications were phrased in terms 
of satisfactory levels of attainment such as "thorough under- 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

standing of sales forecasting and budgets." In others, this 
requirement was expressed as "24 months' experience in sales 
forecasting and budgets." In the latter case it was explained 
that the management believed that at least 24 months' experi- 
ence in the sales forecasting and budgets department was 
necessary in order to have a complete understanding. It was 
added, however, that the statement of the number of months 
was not intended as a required minimum but only as a guide. 
If a man demonstrated that he had an understanding of sales 
forecasting and budgets in less than 24 months on the job, he 
would not be held back from promotion to a higher position 
because of lack of tenure on the job. This qualification took 
account of the fact that the capacities of men to gain satis- 
factory levels of proficiency in business functions vary widely. 
What one man can master in 1 2 months another may require 
24 months or more. 

Another approach to determining the experience and per- 
sonal qualifications for each position in the organization 
required that those who were occupying or previously had 
occupied each administrative position fill in a specification 
form. This was an effort to get responsible executives to state 
what they regarded as qualifying experiences and personal 
capacities. For each position several forms were prepared, 
and from these a final, synthesized statement of qualifications 
was established for each position in the organization. One 
of the benefits of this approach was that executives who 
presently occupied or had occupied the positions knew from 
intimate experience the personal requirements of the jobs. 
Sometimes, of course, their statements of desired qualifications 
were overly modest or overly rigorous. If several executives 
reported on each position, however, it was possible to arrive 
at a median list of specifications which became the approved 

In a company where this approach to defining job specifica- 
tions was used, the standard form included requirements 
under three main categories: special knowledge and experi- 
ence, general management skills, and personal traits. For the 
position of traffic manager the following elements were stated 
as requirements: 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

A. Special Knowledge and Experience. 

i. Complete and thorough knowledge of all traffic and 
transportation by water, rail, truck, and air. 

2. Complete and thorough knowledge of Federal Trans- 
portation Acts. 

B. Specialized Education or Training. 

i . College transportation courses highly desirable. 
2. Legal training desirable. 

C. Experience (Important). 

i . Railroad operations — i or 2 years on any job from 
railroad brakeman to general yard master. 

2. Minimum of 5 years on rates, 2 years on claims, 1 year 
on motor trucks (general rates and all), and 1 year on 
passenger transportation. 

D. General Management Skills Required. 

1 . Planning — superior. 

2. Organizing — superior. 

3. Directing and Coordinating — superior. 

4. Developing men — outstanding. 

E. Personal Traits. 

1 . Thinking effectively — superior. 

2. Getting ideas across — superior. 

3. Drive — superior. 

4. Human Relations — outstanding. 

Comment — Needs to maintain good public relations 
in appearances before commissions, wit- 
nesses, etc. 

F. Age at Time of Appointment. 

35 to 45 Y ears - 

G. General Level of Education. 

H. Other Qualifications. 

Important responsibility involves working with attorneys 
in organizing rate case presentations. 

In this same company the specifications for the position of 
warehouse operations supervisor were stated to be: 

A. Special Knowledge and Experience. 

1 . Needs to have complete and thorough knowledge of: 
Materials handling. 
All types and uses of equipment. 
Sources of supply. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

Planning and installing integrated programs. 
Procedures and methods work involved in above. 
Preparing estimates or analyses of materials han- 
dling costs. 
2 . Desirable Knowledge . 

General knowledge of structures, stresses — famil- 

General knowledge of cost analysis — familiarity. 

General knowledge of methods and procedures work — 

B. Education or Training. 

i . Industrial engineering — desirable. 
2. Will take good education with courses in mathematics 
and science. 

C. Experience. 

i . Four to five years of responsible materials handling ex- 
Must have covered all phases, all kinds of typical prob- 
lems, including planning and layout. 

2. Plant experience especially desirable in addition to 
general warehousing. 

D. General Management Skills Required, 
i . Planning — fair. 

2. Organizing — fair. 

3. Directing and coordinating — superior. 

4. Developing men — fair. 

E. Personal Traits. 

1 . Thinking effectively — superior. 

2. Getting ideas across — superior. 

3. Drive — superior. 

4. Human relations — superior. 

Comment — All these must be high (staff function) 
plus balance and stability. 

F. Age at Time of Appointment. 

2 5 to 35 Y ears - 

G. General Level of Education. 

H. Other Qualifications. 

The process of spelling out in considerable detail the respon- 
sibilities of each job in an organization and defining the 
experience and personal factors required involves considerable 


The Requirements of Executive Positions 

work and time. But in large companies this process is prob- 
ably essential. With many jobs to be considered and with 
operating units, factories, subsidiaries, or sales branches 
spread out over a large part of the country, a set of job de- 
scriptions and personal specifications serves as a useful tool 
in making promotion selections, new employee selections, and 
arrangements for the planned development of able people. 
In smaller enterprises the need for written specifications is 
less urgent, but no less urgent is the need for the use of some 
kind of informal standards and specifications. In many 
small companies the president and the vice presidents have 
the opportunity to know intimately the qualities required for 
the various positions. The important task is to use this 
knowledge when personnel are promoted, hired, or reassigned 
for their own development. 

Several large companies which have formalized their ex- 
ecutive development programs started these programs without 
defining the job requirements. In some cases this policy was 
attributed to a belief that "we know pretty well what we want 
in the jobs," and in others the decision to do something about 
development resulted from a recognition that top manage- 
ment did not know where in the organization the able people 
were to be found. This situation was true in several com- 
panies where it became necessary to find replacements for 
key men who unexpectedly died or resigned. Not being able 
to find replacements in the organization immediately, the 
top executives were stimulated to find ways of determining 
the availability of potential management people. This 
necessity meant taking an inventory of people. 

In this study it developed that typically this step, that is, 
making an inventory, followed the definition of job require- 
ments. Unless there is some compelling reason for making 
the inventory first, such as noted above, it is believed that the 
better procedure is to define the job requirements as standards 
prior to the preparation of a personnel inventory. With 
specifications as standards it is much easier to appraise the 
capacities of people. The problems involved in making and 
maintaining an inventory record of people in the organization 
will be discussed in Chapter III. 



Appraisal and Inventory 

Almost every company maintains some sort of inventory 
record to keep track of its physical assets. With regard to 
human assets, however, relatively few companies keep any 
personnel record other than employment forms and payroll 
lists. In the case of physical assets the paper tool or, in other 
words, the inventory card, includes current status, additions, 
subtractions, and materials on order. In the case of people 
in the organization, on the other hand, their current status, 
strengths, weaknesses, and the steps which should be taken 
to improve them are left largely to the intangible records in 
the minds of key administrators. In small companies where 
intimate knowledge of all the people is possible, certainly 
no formal written record is necessary. In larger companies, 
however, the need for an administrative tool to record status 
and growth of personnel is real. 

In some companies which have grown rapidly over the past 
decade there has been a considerable lag in adapting admin- 
istrative devices which were unnecessary when the company 
was small and when the organization consisted of an intimate 
group of people, all of whom knew each other very well in- 
deed. As these companies grew, executives tried in many 
cases to preserve the personal relationships with employees 
and resisted proposals to adopt basic personnel records re- 
quired for larger operations. Recognition of the need for 
such records came slowly to some executives, and it usually 
came when they were required to find replacements for key 
people who were promoted or who had died or retired. The 
Wheeler Company is a good example of this situation. 

The Wheeler Company was organized in the early 1930's 
by the merger of three small manufacturing companies. 
At this time the total number of employees, including hourly 
workers in the plant, was about 500 persons. The adminis- 
trative group, made up of the employees of the merged 


Appraisal and Inventory 

companies, totaled about 1 50, with the result that after a few 
years' work together the president and key officers knew 
everyone in the organization. When it became necessary to 
find replacements, the president discussed alternative possibil- 
ities with the vice president concerned, and both officers 
were able to make their selection decisions with personal 
knowledge of the man's experience and qualifications. In 
1935 the board of directors approved a program of diversifica- 
tion. It involved entering new segments of a consumer 
market and required additional sales and production per- 
sonnel, many of whom were hired from outside the company. 
During the next 14 years the company's sales, profits, and 
organization grew rapidly, and by 1949 about 6,000 people 
were employed. 

It became apparent to some key executives that with opera- 
tions extending over a large part of the United States, the old 
personal relationships were no longer possible. The con- 
troller, for example, was concerned because he did not know 
what young men were coming along in the organization to 
replace regional controllers, and he felt helpless in doing 
anything about their job training. Accordingly, he asked the 
chief traveling auditor to make notes on any outstanding 
accounting and statistical men in the various regions. Over 
a few years' time the controller learned more about his 
personnel assets, but the knowledge was based largely on the 
personal impressions of the traveling auditor and therefore 
was not consistent or complete. 

In 1948 the president asked the eight regional managers to 
submit a list of people by function who were "able and ready 
for promotion to higher jobs." The list was prepared, and 
after studying the names reported, the president commented 
that he had little faith in the value of the list because he knew 
that some of the men who had been highly recommended for 
jobs of greater responsibility were, in his opinion, at their 
ceiling of promotion already. The president concluded also 
that, if weak men represented the best men known to be avail- 
able, there was urgent need for surveying the whole organiza- 
tion on a systematic basis and then doing something about 
getting and developing men with ability. Early in 1949 he 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

asked one of the vice presidents to study inventory and devel- 
opment programs used in other companies and to recommend 
a program for the Wheeler Company. 

Another point worthy of note here is that in companies 
organized on a decentralized basis, and without a personnel 
inventory system, it is sometimes difficult for the headquarters 
office to use most effectively the manpower assets of the entire 
company. Several situations were reported in which division, 
regional, and subsidiary managers placed first priority on 
their own operations and refused to recommend some of their 
able people for positions of greater responsibility elsewhere in 
the company. This limited perspective of the decentralized 
operations managers was found to be not unusual, but limiting 
able men to local opportunities was fair neither to the man 
nor to the company. Furthermore, a systematic and recurring 
appraisal procedure is no absolute assurance that the practice 
will be avoided. Yet in many companies where the appraisal 
results were discussed with the employees and then forwarded 
to the headquarters office, information on able men became 
available. This outcome was due partly to the requirement 
that appraisals be reduced to writing and partly to the re- 
quired practice of discussing appraisals with the man ap- 
praised. Division managers who had been willing to hold 
back able men by not recommending them for promotion to 
positions outside the division were reluctant to grade down 
able men on written appraisals which were discussed with the 
men involved. 

A thoroughgoing appraisal of the people in an organization 
provides the basis for doing a better job in making selections 
for promotion. Appraisals reduce to objective terms the 
experience and personal qualities of the men in the company, 
and when these are matched against the requirements of the 
position, it is possible to avoid some of the artificial personality 
factors which have been controlling in some situations. One 
president stated that formerly selections for promotion in his 
company had been made in very much the same way that 
some people pick horses as winners at the race track. If the 
horse's name has the same number of letters as the person 
making the selection, or if the horse is handsome and big, the 


Appraisal and Inventory 

selector predicts that he will be a winner. Such criteria have 
little, if any, relationship to success in a race. So often pretty 
much the same kind of approach is made in the selection of 
men for higher administrative positions. This president 
added that the methods of selection presently used involved 
looking at the men and their records as reflected by the 
appraisals, and then betting that the man selected would 
succeed on the job. 1 

Another important objective of an appraisal of the people 
in the organization is to define specifically the individuals' 
weaknesses. When these are isolated, it is possible to formu- 
late a program to strengthen or overcome them. Although 
in several cases the desire of managements to do something 
about development has resulted in a mass or group approach 
to the neglect of the requirements of the individuals, an 
affirmative approach to developing people in business organ- 
izations must be premised on the fact that growth is an indi- 
vidual matter. Providing for the growth and measuring 
progress can only be accomplished in terms of the individual. 
This statement does not mean, of course, that it is not possible 
to gear elements of a development program to a group of 
people who have more or less the same deficiencies. Develop- 
ment programs are discussed in Chapters V and VI, and it will 
only be noted here that people are complex, different, and 
dynamic, not static. Therefore, individual appraisals must 
be made and individual programs must be formulated to 
strengthen the weaknesses defined. 

The determination of weaknesses through appraisals has 
sometimes disclosed personal deficiencies which, if not dis- 
covered early, might have resulted in damage to the company, 
to the invididuals, or to both. In one company, for example, 
a salesman was appraised by his immediate superior and by 
two other superiors who knew him in the work situation. 
The rating form included "character" as one of the several 
factors to be measured. The salesman's immediate superior 
and one other rater gave a very high rating on character. 

1 Chester I. Barnard in The Nature of Leadership (p. 23) quoted a statement by- 
Mr. Theodore N. Vail, then president of the American Telephone and Telegraph 
Company. "You never can tell what a man will do by what he has done; but it is 
the best guide you have." 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The third rater questioned whether the man was basically 
honest. When this doubt resulted in a further investigation 
of the salesman's previous experience and current conduct, it 
was discovered that he had worked out an embezzling scheme 
with one of the customers. 

In another company an amusing but potentially tragic 
situation was averted by management's action resulting from 
a personnel appraisal. Again a salesman was involved, but 
in this case all three raters reported that the man was very 
weak on the responsibility factor. His ratings on other factors 
were uniformly high, but those who appraised him concluded 
that inasmuch as this salesman had at least one automobile 
accident a week, he could not be rated very high on responsi- 
bility. "A salesman who smashes up cars at that rate certainly 
must be careless and irresponsible." An investigation was 
made as the result of the appraisal record, and it was found 
that the salesman had very weak eyes and needed new glasses. 
He had no accidents after the newly prescribed glasses were 

These two examples are, of course, less important than the 
benefits derived from spelling out personal administrative 
deficiencies and formulating a program to provide oppor- 
tunities for growth and correction. Without appraisals there 
can be no real assurance that men in the organization are 
developing to achieve their maximum potential for their 
personal satisfaction and for the benefit of the company. 

Another benefit of systematic personnel appraisals is that 
their mere existence constitutes an important incentive to the 
people in the organization. This is particularly true in large 
companies where the high degree of specialization creates a 
feeling among the people that their individual contributions 
are small and that they are lost and forgotten in a tremendous 
company effort. Many executives stated that the simple 
definition of a man's strengths and weaknesses, even without 
any further affirmative action to develop the man, has re- 
sulted in a stimulant to the man to improve himself. One 
executive said that the appraisal discussions constituted 
challenges to many men in the organization and that because 
of them the men lifted themselves out of the job rut they had 
been in for several years. 


Appraisal and Inventory 

It is important to stress, however, that the appraisal pro- 
cedure should be regarded as an effort to help the individuals. 
In some companies the appraisal program has not been 
useful because it has been administered in such a way as to 
be regarded by the employees as a threat to their security. 
In one company where such a result occurred, the executive 
vice president stated that the people in the organization did 
not understand that they were being measured for their own 
growth and benefit. The appraisal procedure must be ad- 
ministratively treated as an effort to help the organization's 
members realize their maximum potential. The dangers of 
misinterpretation are great. 

Related to the furnishing of incentive is the use of appraisals 
to avoid overlooking and sometimes losing able men. Several 
executives recounted that in companies with which they had 
been associated previously no one other than their immediate 
superiors knew what they did or "manifested any awareness 
that we existed." There were many explanations as to why 
this situation was so, but these executives uniformly agreed 
that if an appraisal system had been in effect they would 
have had more faith in the possibilities of getting ahead in the 

Measurement of Executive Qualities 

In order to determine the quality of human assets in any 
organization, some method of measurement is necessary. 
The problem is not simple because of the unique quality of 
people resulting from their different inherited capacities, in- 
telligence, environments, and the other influences which 
shape individual persons during their lives. In addition to 
the complexity of the individual at any moment of time, the 
problem of measurement is further complicated by the 
dynamic character of people. As individuals grow older they 
change in many different ways so that what might be re- 
garded as a fair approximation of a person at one time may 
be completely erroneous a year or two later. At that time 
he may be better suited or less suited for the position under 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The variegated quantities of human qualities plus the 
changing nature of these qualities have complicated the re- 
search efforts of the social scientists. Certainly the physical 
sciences, where matter is relatively static, have progressed far 
beyond the social sciences. Efforts are currently under way to 
learn more about people and to close the gap between the so- 
cial and physical sciences. In a very real sense our present 
state of knowledge does not permit scientific and absolute 
measurement of human qualities. To be sure, progress has 
been made, but during this study no evidence was found which 
suggested a solution for the accurate measurement of people. 
It is the purpose of this section to discuss some of the current 
methods employed by manufacturing companies in sizing up 
their personnel. Appraisals of people must be made by 
business managements continuously, and although they lack 
the benefit of a definitive answer, they fall into two broad 
categories, namely, appraisals by observation and appraisals 
by tests. 

In the work situation appraisal is going on all the time. 
Impressions are made and conclusions are drawn which char- 
acterize a person as a person in an organization. Sometimes 
these conclusions are based on artificial and superficial 
evidence, and sometimes the most recent experience dominates 
the thinking of the appraised so that an action which may 
not be truly representative of the appraised becomes the 
determinant in his size-up. Appraisals are frequently made 
on skimpy and inadequate evidence, and if the purpose of the 
appraisal is to arrive at a reasonable approximation of a man 
as an administrator, certainly conclusions without founda- 
tions of facts are likely to be misleading. 

The complexity of people involves not only the appraised 
person but also the appraiser. Many, if not most, of us have 
conscious or subconscious biases and prejudices that enter into 
our conclusions with regard to other people. It is for the 
purpose of minimizing some of these deficiencies that many 
companies have utilized the paper tool, an appraisal form. 
Reducing to objective terms the elements to be measured and 
supporting these conclusions with evidence does contribute 
to more accurate appraisals of people in business organizations. 


Appraisal and Inventory 

Among the companies visited during this survey, there 
were about as many different types of forms for the appraisal 
of personnel as there were companies. Certainly there was 
little agreement as to what qualities were indicative of personal 
administrative capacities. In each case the form used repre- 
sented the management's current belief as to the significant 
qualities to be measured, but it was interesting to learn that 
no executive believed the form in use to be the ultimate as an 
accurate measure of personal capacities. 

In general, the appraisal forms included factors which 
served as criteria to measure job performance, intelligence, 
and personality. There was, however, a wide range of indi- 
vidual factors found to be included under these broad cate- 
gories. In no sense was there a consistent pattern which could 
be summarized here as the median or typical list of appraisal 
form factors. 

In those companies in which intelligence, experience, and 
personality specifications have been determined for each 
position, the appraisal form included those factors which 
were common to the various positions by function. For 
example, in the Blackmer Company the form contained 
these elements for the appraisal of all personnel in the sales 

i. Constructive Ideas 
His own, 

From people under his supervision, 
Use of mind. 

2. Executive Abilities 

People — selection, evaluation, and training of subor- 
Plans — vision, soundness of objectives, result of plans, 
Money — purposes for which spent, control of expen- 

3. Operations 

Know-how of advertising, sales, budgets, product de- 
Operating results — his own and those of his group. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

4. Personal qualifications 

Alertness of mind, 

Expression — written and oral, 







5. Enlightened self-interest versus narrow selfishness. 

6. Promotion potential 

Short range, 
Long range. 
Other characteristics which affect potential. 

These factors were determined by an analysis of the various 
job descriptions of the sales positions and therefore provide an 
objective list for the person to follow in making the appraisal. 
A detailed instruction sheet which elaborates on the meaning 
intended for each factor is provided each person making the 

In some companies simpler forms are used for lower-level 
positions in each function while more complete information 
is desired on the higher positions of administrative responsibil- 
ity. In the Blackmer Company, however, the same form was 
used for all levels of management in the sales department. 

In companies where the job requirements have not been 
defined in detail, the appraisal forms vary from an almost 
blank sheet of paper to a form which contains 1 90 questions 
to be answered on each man appraised. The company that 
uses the minimum of suggested elements explained that the 
purpose was to compel those charged with making the ap- 
praisal to think out for themselves what strengths and weak- 
nesses characterized the person appraised. The executives 
believed that supplying lists of characteristics with varying 
degrees of proficiency resulted in mechanical appraisals which 
did not give a true picture of the man measured. By the 
requirement that each appraiser describe in his own terms 
the capacities of the appraised, they felt that it was possible 
to arrive at a better conclusion as to the man's abilities. 


Appraisal and Inventory 
The form used was substantially as follows: 









Results (What has this individual accomplished in measurable 
results since his last appraisal? Be specific. Give facts and 
figures wherever possible.) 

Methods (How does this person go about getting his job done? 
How does he work with and through people? Be specific.) 


(List only outstanding qualifications 
either above or below average) 

Strongest single qualification 
Most noticeable weakness 


(What is the next step ahead for this individual, and does 
he have further potential beyond next step? If so, outline.) 

In this company and in the Blackmer Company those 
making the appraisals are requested to support their conclu- 
sions with evidence. This is an important and useful require- 
ment in that it tends to minimize the favorable impressions 
resulting from personality attractiveness alone. Frequently 
appraisals are made approving or disapproving men on 
casual grounds. It is to avoid this result that the form re- 
quires specific evidence supporting the conclusions reached. 
Also, inasmuch as the appraisal results have an important 
bearing on the future business careers of the people appraised, 
considerable care is taken to assure, so far as possible, fairness 
in the rating. Supporting evidence again contributes to this 
goal. The use of the personnel appraisals requires the taking 
of every precaution to present a valid measurement of the man 
appraised. In companies where evidence is required, the 
executives stated that without specific supporting data there 
can be no assurance that the form was prepared conscientious- 
ly and with due regard to the effects on individual careers. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

In companies where the job specifications had not been 
defined, the appraisal forms included wide varieties of factors 
deemed by the managements to be useful criteria. In some 
cases the lists of factors were borrowed from other companies, 
at times they came from those in the same industry and some- 
times from those in completely different industries. In one 
case the form used represented a composite of the elements 
found in the appraisal forms of about 20 other companies. 
In another, the factors were provided by two vice presidents 
of the company who were asked to describe "an executive." 
In the formulation of an appraisal form there are several 
significant points to consider. Since the fundamental pur- 
poses of appraisals are to determine the capacities of men for 
promotion and for growth, and since there is no universal 
list of executive traits, it becomes necessary for each company 
to study the particular requirements of its various administra- 
tive positions. These will vary according to the business 
function involved and according to the level of position in the 
organization. But such a study makes it possible to determine 
what seem to be the important criteria for measurement. 

After these have been tentatively defined, it is necessary to 
consider the number of factors to be used. It is possible to 
create a list of criteria which is so long that the physical job 
of appraising people in the organization is onerous and ob- 
jectionable. The result is that appraisers refuse to give the 
thought and attention required for useful appraisals. In one 
company which used a 10-page form for each employee, the 
task of appraisal soon became a mechanical filling in of crosses 
with little effort to try to reflect the man's real capacities. 
An executive here explained that he was asked to prepare ten 
such forms, and he just did not have the time to do so much 
paper work. In this case the desire to get a lot of detailed 
information concerning each man defeated the purpose of 

In another company the president insisted that the first 
appraisal form used be short and simple. He knew that to 
many of the executives who would be asked to prepare 
appraisals of their subordinates, the experience would be new. 
He believed that, inasmuch as the value of the appraisals 


Appraisal and Inventory 

depended entirely on the care and thought used in filling out 
the forms, it was essential that the initial list of factors should 
be simple and easily understood. He acknowledged that the 
appraisal form did not include all the desired criteria, but he 
thought that after the people in the company had had some 
experience in appraisals, it would then be possible to elaborate 
on the factors included. 

Another aspect to be considered in preparing an appraisal 
form is the number of degrees of achievement to be used. In 
one company, for each of 35 factors, seven degrees of ability 
were possible. In another with a substantially equal list of 
factors, three degrees were provided. Here again it would 
seem desirable to use an appraisal framework which is as 
simple as possible. The executives of one company suggested 
that it was better to use four degrees of achievement rather 
than three or five because an even number precluded the 
human tendency to settle on the middle or average degree of 

In one company in which considerable management at- 
tention had been given to the creation of an executive devel- 
opment program over the last several years, the appraisal form 
contained 15 factors with five degrees of ability for each. The 
factors used were intended to reflect each man's character, 
fitness, intelligence, knowledge, ambition, leadership, and 
performance. The various descriptive words used to reflect 
these capacities were decided upon after a study was made of 
the company's operations and of other companies' approaches. 
As was noted earlier, different words mean different things to 
different people. Accordingly, the explanatory words and 
phrases added to the descriptive words of characteristics and 
degrees of characteristics were provided to help the appraisers 
understand the meanings intended. The same form was used 
for appraising administrators and potential administrators 
involved in work at all levels and in all functions. This 
appraisal form follows. 



Definition: The possession of the principles of right and 
wrong — honesty, sincerity, loyalty, and ethics. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

□ Unethical. Lacks moral courage. Hypocritical. 

IH Often prejudiced. Not always sincere. Sometimes 

[H Fundamentally honest, sincere, and loyal, with good 
reputation. Generally applies rules of the game. 

I | Rarely shows partiality or prejudice. Thoroughly de- 
pendable, honest, sincere, and tolerant. 

Q Highly respected for fairness. Scrupulously honest and 
loyal. Has moral courage. 

Definition: The state of being hale or sound in body and 

j~1 Poor health and nervous indisposition often interfere 
with work. 

□ Frequent absences due to sickness. Lacks vigor. In- 
clined to be jittery. 

|~| Loses little time because of health. Has normal physical 

and mental vigor. 
|~1 Well and hearty. Possesses reserve energy, both physical 

and mental. Well adjusted. 
|~1 Health and vigor stimulating to others. Never tires. 

Almost always relaxed. 
Emotional Stability 

Definition: The ability to control emotional expression 
and behavior. 
I | Unreliable in crisis. Violent outbursts likely. Won't 

take criticism. 
[~1 Emotions and moodiness periodically handicap dealings. 

Personalizes issues. Lacks sense of humor. 
f~| Usually retains even keel. Emotional outbursts infre- 
quent. Appears to possess a sense of humor. 
|~| Maintains good behavior balance in most situations. 

Has a good sense of humor. 
r~l Self-possessed. Outstanding ability to adjust self to 

personalities and circumstances. Excellent sense of 

Analytical Ability 

Definition: The ability to think through a problem, 
secure proper data, evaluate such data, and consider 
all direct and indirect factors. 
Q] Slow and erratic in analysis. Hazy, confused thinking. 

Often unable to evaluate facts. 


Appraisal and Inventory 

□ Rarely analyzes conditions or behavior to determine 
causes. Tends to close mind. Definitely routine- 

n Deliberate in analysis of values and relationships. 
Displays good judgment. Capable of solving problems 
of project nature following general pattern. 

|~| Picks out important facts and arrives at correct con- 
clusions. Open-minded. Recognizes related factors. 

□ Analytical type mentality. Capable of solving original 
broad field problems with tempered theoretical and 
practical approach. 


Definition: The ability to formulate new ideas, utilizing 
facts and past experiences, and to see future possibil- 

□ Limited viewpoint. Shallow thinker. Fails to draw 
upon past experiences. 

□ Frequently biased by former opinions and circum- 
stances. Sees only obvious possibilities. 

□ Judgment generally sound. Usually considers all im- 
plications and possibilities. 

□ Open-minded. Alert in seeking new facts. Quick to 
grasp situations. Good common sense. 

|~~1 Keen searching mentality. Extremely resourceful in 
developing new ideas. 
Knowledge of Function 

Definition: The understanding of basic fundamentals, 
techniques, and procedures to his function. 

□ Lacks basic fundamentals. Has no appreciation of 
current developments. 

□ Understanding of techniques and procedures poor. 
Weak in knowledge of basic fundamentals and cur- 
rent events. 

□ Satisfactorily acquainted with his function. Scope of 
experience and training limited. 

□ Theoretical and practical knowledge of function above 
average. Well-informed on many major new develop- 

□ Thorough knowledge of basic fundamentals. Tech- 
niques and procedures fortified by experience. Out- 
standing grasp of future developments. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 


Definition: The extent of desire and will for preferment, 
honor, superiority, power, and attainment. 
n Sluggish. Has no aspirations. Willing to "just get 

[~1 Listless. Satisfied with present job status. Does not 

desire success enough to make the effort. 
n Has some personal desires to succeed. Wants to improve 
his standard of living. Has average motivation. 

□ Continually seeking greater responsibilities. Eager to 
please. Enjoys competition. Working to qualify for 
next job ahead. 

| | Has a strong desire to acquire recognition and advance- 
ment, and acts toward these ends without sacrificing 
performance standards. 
Job Performance 

Definition: The application of related factors to job at 
hand and resultant productivity. 
f~l Fails to apply himself to problem at hand. Work output 
and quality poor. 
1 Below standard application of know-how. Productivity 
poor. Clockwatcher. 
|~1 Applies himself favorably to most problems. Generally 

n Does a very satisfactory job. Has good work capacity 
and commendable attitude. 

□ Quality and quantity of work outstanding. Has large 
capacity and ability for original application. 


Definition: Energy or aptitude to originate or inaugurate 
[H Hesitant and evasive. Will not take action of his own free 

□ Frequently hesitates to act without confirmation. Re- 
quires frequent guidance. Not forceful. 

1~1 Generally exhibits strength of will and force in taking 

action in normal situations. 
n Resourceful in handling most situations; self-starter; 

persistent and positive. 

□ Dynamic, independent, and original. Assumes active 
leadership and is generally "one step ahead." 


Appraisal and Inventory 

Ability to Inspire and Influence Others 

Definition: The faculty of inspiring others by conveying 
ideas and plans and influencing them to greater de- 
termination and unity of purpose. 

□ Lack of enthusiasm. A "lone wolf." Constant dissen- 
sion within his sphere. 

□ Does not command respect or inspire confidence. In- 
effectual expression. Employees feel they are working 

for him. 
I | Conventional in manner, spirit, and enthusiasm. Con- 
veys ideas but does not motivate entire group. 

□ Stimulates others. Employees enjoy working with him. 
Has a "following." 

Q Expresses self effectively. Commands high respect. 
Knows how to criticize and when to praise. High in- 
spirational qualities. 

Definition: The ability to work harmoniously with 
others toward the accomplishment of common duties. 

□ Concedes nothing. Obstructive. Antagonistic. 

□ Poor mixer. Tries to run with the ball. Occasionally 
indulges in obstructive argument. 

Q Generally adapts self to persons and situations. Respon- 
sive to leadership and reasonably tactful. 

I~~l Willing and eager to please. Works in complete har- 
mony with group. Adaptable and courteous. 

Q Adapts self very well without sacrificing standards. 
Goes "out of way" to promote common end. 
Development of Personnel 

Definition: The faculty of selecting right personnel to 
fit job requirements and to train subordinates. 

[~1 Poor judge of people and job requirements. Tries to do 
everything himself. 

[~1 Plays favorites and is prejudiced in judgments. Training 
ability poor. Overburdens self with detail. 

I~1 Has good appreciation of organizational values and 
attempts to improve through proper selection and 
delegation of authority. Trains satisfactorily. 

i~l Appraises personnel rather accurately. Successful in 
apportioning work load. Builds efficient organization. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

[~| Has keen ability to select and develop key subordinates. 
Delegates authority very effectively. Whole-heartedly 
interested in company and its personnel. 

Definition: The quality of determining a definite course 
of action and carrying out a decision. 

□ Slow, fussy, vacillating, and unreliable. Usually "on 
the fence." Lacks conviction. 

[~| Slow in reaching decisions — without strength of convic- 
tion. Guided by others' thinking. 

[~~| Generally sound and accurate on problems having a 
normal pattern; otherwise hesitant and cautious. 

r~l Usually decisive in difficult problems. Generally prompt 
in giving answers. Faces facts squarely with conviction. 

□ Entirely self-confident. Makes prompt decisions and 
backs them up. 


Definition: The ability to integrate component parts of 
an organization, such as men, materials, and proc- 
esses, into a harmonious and effective working unit. 
r~| Plans work poorly. Confused presentation of orders. 

Poor leader. 
[~1 Follows existing procedures. Limited in leadership 

|~| Plans normal work satisfactorily. Needs guidance on 

major changes. Average leader. 
[~1 Needs little guidance in coordinating major efforts. 
Good application to objective. 

□ Recognizes broad objectives clearly. Plans work effi- 
ciently. Gets excellent teamwork. 


Definition: The willingness to assume and discharge 
functions of management. 
[~1 Avoids responsibility. Needs constant supervision. A 
"buck passer." 

□ Reluctant to accept delegated responsibility. Follow-up 
often required. Requires fairly constant supervision. 

□ Generally accepts and discharges delegated responsibility 
willingly. Requires only general supervision. 

□ Willingly accepts obligations. Requires only minimum 
follow-up. Sticks with problem to satisfactory con- 

[6 4 ] 

Appraisal and Inventory 

□ Seeks additional responsibility and authority. Manages 
functions in an outstanding manner. Unruffled in the 
face of consequences. 

There must be another characteristic which is peculiar 
to this employee. What is it? 
Explain below, using example if necessary. 

After the appraisal forms had been filled out and reviewed 
by an executive in the headquarters office, he determined a 
simple summary letter index for each man appraised. This 
he arrived at by giving a numerical weight to each of the five 
degrees of achievement, five points for the highest, four points 
for the next highest, and so on. The addition of the numerical 
ratings resulted in a total figure which was then translated to 
a letter grade. With a possible total of 75 points (15 factors 
x 5 points), an A man would have a total score of 68 to 75. 
AB+ man would have 63 to 68, and so on down through the 
scale. The purpose of arriving at a letter grade was to have a 
ready reference appraisal later when a selection from among 
many candidates was necessary. 

In simplifying the appraisal of people through the use of 
letter or numerical grades, there are some real dangers which 
should be noted here. In some cases the letter grade may be 
grossly misleading when an executive makes a selection for 
promotion. This tendency is especially apparent in com- 
panies where one form is used for the appraisal of all em- 
ployees. In another situation, for example, an assistant to a 
vice president of a subsidiary was given very high ratings on 
all factors except one included in the appraisal form. The 
low rating was the ability to get the cooperation of subordi- 
nates. Since all the 20 factors were weighted equally when 
the numerical score was calculated, a low rating on one factor 
did not reduce the total result appreciably. A numerical 
total of 92 gave this man one of the highest ratings in the 
organization. Yet because his major deficiency was in the 
area of getting things done through people, it would be a 
mistake to give the man a higher position of responsibility 
before his capacities to work through people had been de- 
veloped. Such a mistake would be possible if executives in 
the parent company relied upon the numerical grade and did 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

not explore in detail the elements which made up the total 
score. It would seem desirable to consider the details of 
appraisal results in each case, and if this procedure is followed, 
little value is to be found in a numerical rating. 

An executive of another company stated that his objection 
to a single numerical or letter rating for men was that, in his 
experience, those charged with making selection decisions 
begin to rely more and more on the simple ratings as quick 
and easy answers. They assume that the relative worth of a 
person is reflected by a relative score and neglect to consider 
the factors which go into a summary total. He concluded 
that even with the best intentions executives attributed values 
to single scores which were not valid. 

Whom to Appraise 

Manufacturing companies again varied considerably in 
their practices regarding the people in the organization for 
whom appraisals were to be made and the frequency of the 
appraisals. In one company all persons down through the 
first level of supervision, all salesmen, and any hourly workers 
believed to be outstanding were appraised periodically. In 
another company only key men and potential key men were 
appraised. In both cases the purposes of appraisal were 
related to the development of people for administrative 
positions. In the first company about 30% of all employees 
were appraised, whereas in the second company only about 
10% were chosen for appraisal. In the company which 
evaluated 30% of all employees, the executives believed that 
appraisal constituted an important incentive to the company 
personnel. Also, experience had shown that people with 
administrative ability and potential frequently came up from 
the hourly worker ranks. And it was only by appraising a 
substantial number, in this case 30%, of all employees that 
the company could realize the desired results stated. In the 
company which limited executive appraisal to key men and 
potential key men, the executives responsible for the develop- 
ment program believed that this group constituted the real 
core of future management, and therefore appraisal and 
development should be concentrated on this relatively small 


Appraisal and Inventory 

proportion of 10%. According to this company's policy on 
appraisal, if a man hired as a potential key man did not fulfill 
expectations on the job, his name was removed from the list of 
men to be appraised, and thereafter he was not considered for 
any higher position in the company. In most cases the men 
whose names had been deleted from the list did not know 
that they were no longer being appraised. 

Perhaps the most desirable policy in the companies studied 
concerning the people who should be evaluated existed in a 
large manufacturing company in the Middle West. In this 
company the president stated that everyone employed would 
be given opportunities to progress as far as his individual 
capabilities permitted. Accordingly, every person in the 
organization was appraised annually, and the results of the 
appraisal were discussed with the person concerned by his or 
her immediate superior. It was noteworthy in this case that 
the purpose of the appraisal was emphasized to be the growth 
and development of the employees. The results of this policy, 
as expressed in an employee opinion poll, were that they 
thought of the company as a good place in which to work and 
get ahead. The company found, also, that several able ad- 
ministrators came up from the hourly wage group and, 
despite their lack of formal education, had the inherent intel- 
lectual capacities to grow and occupy positions of top respon- 
sibility in the company. Many companies today deprive 
themselves of the abilities of potentially able people by cutting 
off their appraisals at the level of first-line foremen. The 
possibilities of locating, developing, and utilizing the potential 
executive manpower presently engaged in hourly work at the 
lower levels in organizations need to be re-examined and 
considered. Several executives stated that union rules and 
the slowness of progression through the job hierarchy pre- 
cluded any effective action in this area. It was found, how- 
ever, that in some companies in the same industry, with the 
same union and with the same system of job progression, 
capable men with administrative potential were found and 
given opportunities to develop into executive positions. 

With regard to the frequency of appraisals, the general 
practice was to make complete evaluations of administrators 

[6 7 ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

and potential administrators once a year. This was regarded 
as a sufficient period of time within which men might manifest 
growth or change. A refinement was found in a few com- 
panies which appraised men six months after they took a new 
position. It was believed that although annual reviews were 
sufficient for men in the same positions, a six-month review 
of men in new jobs made suggestions or corrective action 
possible if the men were having trouble in their new positions. 

Appraisal by Whom? 

The approaches used to size up executives and potential 
executives varied in the companies studied but were similar 
in general. In some companies the appraisal forms were 
prepared by the man's immediate superior, in others by the 
immediate superior together with two others from the superi- 
or's level of management who knew the man being appraised, 
and in still other companies by the immediate superior and 
two others from the superior's management level, one of 
whom did not know the man appraised. The requirement 
that superiors rate their subordinates contributes to a valid 
evaluation of the men because there is no one in the organiza- 
tion who knows better how the men appraised have actually 
performed on the job. The superior who works with a man 
over a period of time and under a variety of circumstances is 
in a position to observe and, therefore, judge realistically 
what the subordinate's capacities are. He learns whether 
the man can handle details, how he gets along with people, 
how he delegates work, and whether he is able to carry a job 
through to completion. The superior's conclusions can be 
based on first-hand intimate knowledge resulting from the 
experiences of day-to-day working relationships. 

In some companies the executives responsible for the in- 
auguration and administration of personnel development 
programs concluded that there were real dangers in limiting 
appraisals to a man's superior. Some superiors have con- 
scious or unconscious biases and prejudices which preclude 
their sizing up subordinates fairly. Other executives may be 
reluctant to call attention to qualified subordinates for fear of 
limiting their own advancement. Still others may resist the 


Appraisal and Inventory 

growth and promotion of able younger men because they are 
afraid these men will become their bosses. 

Evaluations by people are inherently subject to these 
human characteristics, but some companies try to avoid the 
injustices which may result from a single evaluation by having 
a group of from two to five members of the organization 
appraise a man. The job of selecting and training the eval- 
uators involves considerable work, but in the companies 
where this approach is used the results are believed to be 
worth the time and effort required. 

In one situation three members of management separately 
appraised a man and submitted their forms to the company's 
director of executive development, who used the three forms 
to prepare a single synthesized evaluation. In another com- 
pany a group of three appraisers appointed to evaluate a man 
met as a committee for the preparation of one appraisal form. 
Each of these two approaches has its strengths and weaknesses. 
The first method, in which separate appraisals are sub- 
mitted by each of three appraisers appointed for each man, 
involves considerable processing of the forms and depends to a 
large extent upon the skills and judgment of the person who 
prepares the summary or synthesized form. In a large eastern 
company, the Rex Corporation, in which this method was 
used, the coordinator for executive development stated that 
usually the three appraisals of each man fell into a pattern, 
and it was relatively easy to prepare a single summary ap- 
praisal. In those cases where there were wide variations in 
the ratings reported, the coordinator discussed the variations 
with the three appraisers, determined the basis for the differ- 
ences of opinion, and then prepared a single appraisal accept- 
able to the three appraisers. 

In the second method, where the appraisers meet as a group, 
there is the danger that the most powerful, influential, or 
conscientious member will dominate the appraisal results. 
Its strength, as explained by a vice president of a large man- 
ufacturing company in which this committee approach was 
used, lies in the fact that, since the group of three must 
unanimously agree on the results reported in the appraisal 
form, it is possible to get a balanced and valid appraisal of 

[6 9 ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

each man. Superficial impressions and opinions of one 
member are checked by the other two members. The vice 
president added that it was desirable to have one member on 
the committee who did not know the man appraised. This 
member's major function consisted in serving as an unbiased 
participant to assure objective rather than superficial rating. 

According to another practice which contributed to objec- 
tive evaluations of personnel, appraisers were forbidden to 
retain copies of appraisals to use in preparing an appraisal 
on the same man a year later. Also appraisal forms prepared 
by other supervisors during previous years were not available 
for use in making a current appraisal. The purpose of this 
practice was to avoid the influence of a prior size-up in the 
evaluation of the present capacities of the man. 

A danger of appraisals, of course, is that a man may be 
tagged with a descriptive phrase which may stick to him 
years after it is no longer appropriate. If old appraisal forms 
become available to those charged with today's evaluations, 
a current validity may be given to a weakness which long 
since has been corrected. A vice president of a middle western 
company stated that ten years ago when supervisors had 
access to the appraisal files of their subordinates, a depart- 
ment head noted that his predecessor stated as a weakness of a 
man still in the department an unwillingness to assume 
responsibility. In his evaluation of the man the department 
head made the same observation without acknowledging any 
progress. The vice president said he knew the situation very 
well, that the man charged with the deficiency was extremely 
able, and the department head's comment was "just plain 
wrong." Fortunately in this case there was an executive who 
knew the facts, and therefore damage to the incorrectly 
described man was avoided. Shortly after this experience, 
the vice president added, the company adopted the policy of 
regarding all annual appraisal forms as secret documents, and 
those charged with the responsibility of appraising their 
subordinates were urged to look at their men currently and 

The dynamic and changing characteristics of people neces- 
sitate taking a fresh point of view at each appraisal time, 


Appraisal and Inventory 

and asking superiors to appraise their subordinates with- 
out reference to earlier evaluations is another way of trying 
to achieve value-giving objectivity. 

Some Problems of Appraisal 

Because there is no standard or uniform executive position 
and because there is no formula of quantities of desired execu- 
tive qualities, the task of appraising administrative personnel 
must depend upon the judgment and opinions of people in 
the organization. The appraisal forms and techniques 
discussed above represent the practices of many companies, 
the executives of which hold no brief as to their absolute 
validity. They do contend, however, that a standardized 
approach on a systematic basis is better than random methods 
which may vary by business function and by divisions, 
branches, or sections within the functions. 

It was observed in the course of this study that one of the 
major problems of appraisal is getting the raters to evaluate 
their men realistically and objectively. It was noticed, for 
example, that company sales managers and division sales 
managers had real difficulty in exercising discriminatory 
judgment in appraising some of their key men. In one com- 
pany the sales manager described a subsidiary sales manager 
as "tops — ready to take over my job at any time." Further 
discussion disclosed that the subsidiary manager had had no 
experience or ability in advertising, which was a major 
responsibility of the company sales manager. This inability 
to appraise subordinates on a basis other than "100% com- 
plete indorsement" defeats the main purposes of the appraisal. 

In another large middle western manufacturing company 
there were eight regional sales divisions throughout the United 
States, each managed by a vice president. Sales operations 
were largely decentralized in the divisions, which maintained 
warehouse inventories, billed customers, kept books of ac- 
counts, and in general operated as independent subsidiaries. 
In 1948 the company started a company- wide program for 
the development of personnel by requiring appraisals of all 
employees on a standard form. The executive coordinator 
appointed by the president called at each division to explain 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

the procedures and to leave necessary forms and instructions. 
After the evaluations were completed and submitted to the 
headquarters office, the coordinator studied the results and 
found that in the Atlantic Division no men were appraised 
as more than "average." Investigation disclosed that the 
division manager kept all appraisals on his employees at a low 
level because he thought that if he made better appraisals he 
would lose his good men to other divisions. 

In these two situations there was no real understanding by 
those responsible for the appraisals of the purposes of employee 
evaluation. This problem of getting understanding and 
acceptance by those who make the appraisals is not easy to 
solve, nor is it likely to be solved quickly. In both cases the 
executive coordinators from the headquarters office later spent 
considerable time with the people concerned to help them 
appreciate the value of a personnel inventory. 

Several companies reported that after a few years' experi- 
ence with personnel appraisals, it was possible to study the 
results and determine which men rated their subordinates 
consistently high or low. From this information it was possible 
to rate the raters. If it was found, for example, that a sub- 
sidiary plant manager as a matter of practice always appraised 
his subordinates at or near the top of the rating scale, this 
fact was taken into account in any headquarters decisions 
that were based on the appraised results. In one company 
in which the raters were rated, the validity of a supervisor's 
ratings were included as an element in his own qualifications 
for positions of greater responsibility. The president of this 
company stated that he regarded the ability to size up subordi- 
nates as an important executive capacity and that the rating 
record of supervisors in the company was good evidence on 
this factor. He added that if a man is inclined to follow his 
prejudices in his appraisals of subordinates, this tendency 
gives a real clue as to whether the man is administratively fair 
in his day-to-day relationships with subordinates. 

In a medium-size eastern manufacturing company a vice 
president, who supervised the company's development pro- 
gram, stated that after three years' experience with appraisals 
he believed the company's major problem in personnel evalua- 


Appraisal and Inventory 

tions arose from the fact that some raters noticed only those 
weaknesses in subordinates which the raters themselves had; 
that is, in those cases where raters regarded a subordinate's 
inability to get along with the people in the organization as a 
serious weakness, this weakness was present also in the rater. 
The vice president stated further that recognition of this 
tendency made it possible for him to discount the appraisals 
of certain raters and to depend upon the conclusions of other 
appraisers of the same men. 

Another vice president, responsible for the development 
program in his company, reported that according to his experi- 
ence a few thoughtful raters found it difficult to define weak- 
nesses of their subordinates because they were so acutely 
aware of their own shortcomings. When discussing subordi- 
nates, such raters tended to rationalize the subordinate's 
weaknesses with plausible excuses, without any real recogni- 
tion that one of the purposes of the appraisals was to help the 
subordinates grow. Here again the solution lay in the area of 
explaining the importance of valid appraisals, with emphasis 
on the growth and development objectives. 

Another problem involved in the appraisal of people arose 
in a southern subsidiary of a large western manufacturing 
company. The parent company sponsored an organization- 
wide development program on a uniform basis, and estab- 
lished a headquarters office to assist the various operating 
companies to inaugurate the system. Appraisal forms were 
prepared for all personnel from the foreman level up, and 
sent to the home office for review. Later a representative of 
the headquarters executive development office visited the 
southern subsidiary in an effort to find out why virtually all 
the people in that organization were rated as "very strong" 
with no significant weaknesses. As the discussion between 
the division manager and the home office representative 
progressed, it became clear that the manager rated his person- 
nel as all extremely able because he thought it would be a 
reflection on him as a manager if any acknowledgment of 
personnel weaknesses was shown. Again, this is a practical 
problem in administering a program in a large company and 
emphasizes further the importance of getting across to all 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

personnel that the appraisal forms and the whole development 
program are not a threat against their security but an as- 
sistance in their growth and greater job security. This prob- 
lem of establishing understanding throughout the organiza- 
tion was encountered again and again during the study. 
Companies embarking on a program must expect that it will 
take time to educate the personnel in the organization on the 
purposes of the program. 

In departments of some companies a tendency was observed 
to rate a man as a man without regard to his working relation- 
ships. In these cases the rater conceived the appraisal factors 
very narrowly and viewed the subordinates as separate units 
of physical specimens rather than as people having relation- 
ships with their boss, their collateral equals, and their own 
subordinates. The appraisal of executives as people without 
cognizance of their working relationships is unreal and misses 
the point. 

The misleading conclusions which result from this approach 
were simply illustrated in a western company. The vice 
president in charge of sales and the president appraised the 
sales department heads, and both concluded that one of the 
department heads was "very weak" in talking with customers. 
When important customers visited the office, the department 
head stood by as the sales vice president handled the discus- 
sion. Neither the president of the company nor the vice presi- 
dent realized that the reason the department head did not 
participate in the discussions with customers was that the 
sales vice president would not let him. Whenever sales pros- 
pects came to the plant, the vice president always felt impelled 
to take over, with the result that the department head had no 
alternative except to stand by as an observer. Recognition 
of this factor in appraising people adds to the complexity of 
rating human abilities and capacities. Disregard of it, how- 
ever, is likely to produce results which do not provide a useful 
basis for a development program. 

In one company in which a detailed program for the 
growth of its people had been worked out over a period of 
15 years, a problem involving appraisals and salary adminis- 
tration arose. Here the requirements of each position in the 


Appraisal and Inventory 

organization were spelled out, and the appraisal forms fol- 
lowed the pattern of the specifications found in the job 
requirements. In addition, each position was classified in 
terms of responsibilities and a numerical figure was assigned 
to it. A salary schedule was prepared, and for each numerical 
figure job a range was provided. For example, for a 9B job, 
the annual salary was from $3,800 to $4,700. It was thus 
possible to determine the salary range for every position in 
the organization. In this company appraisals were made of 
all employees annually. Without any statement of policy to 
the contrary by top management, executives responsible for 
accomplishing the appraisals in their departments assumed 
that since the appraisals were made annually, changes in 
salary should be made annually, typically after the ratings 
had been completed and reviewed. No such implicit policy 
was intended by the members of top management, for they 
had established salary ranges for each position in order to 
provide flexibility to key executives to make salary changes 
in their discretion as deserved. The results of the presumed 
policy became apparent when literally hundreds of raises in 
pay were given after the appraisal forms had been submitted. 
Shortly thereafter a policy letter was issued which stated 
clearly that salary administration and executive development 
were related but independent aspects of the company's opera- 
tions. Raises in salary should be related to job performance, 
but it was not necessary to delay deserved salary increases 
until the growth in abilities was formally defined in appraisal 

In some of the companies studied those responsible for the 
administration of company development programs have had 
difficulty in getting the appraisal forms prepared and sub- 
mitted by the designated raters. This delay has been partly 
due to the fact that the raters, not fully understanding the 
purposes of appraisals, have placed a low priority on the com- 
pletion of the forms. There were other what seemed to be 
more important day-to-day operating jobs to be done, and the 
appraisal forms rested in a "to-be-done-later" file. In some 
cases prodding by the executive development coordinator 
resulted in completion of the ratings, but frequently the 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

appraisals were dashed off without careful thought as to their 
validity and with no regard to the implications. 

Here, again, the solution to this difficulty depends upon the 
extent to which the objectives and methods of an approach to 
executive development have been explained to and accepted 
by the people in the organization. Unless the responsible 
administrators in the company believe in what is done for the 
growth of people, it is unlikely that appraisal forms or any 
other elements of an approach will be effective. More than 
anyone else, the chief operating executive must believe in and 
support the program. His statements, attitudes, and actions 
determine the degree of acceptance by subordinates. If the 
president does support the program sincerely, others in the 
organization usually will follow his example. But if the presi- 
dent manifests a half-hearted interest, anyone designated to 
administer the program is likely to encounter indifference, 
and even the most thoroughly thought-out approach will 

The importance of support on the part of the chief operating 
executive is stressed because it was found that without such 
support considerable time and effort can be wasted in trying 
to do something for the growth of personnel. In one com- 
pany, for instance, the president appointed a committee of 
three officers to study the problem and to suggest an organized 
proposal on development. These men made a survey of the 
methods used in other companies and suggested a complete 
program which was later adopted by the president. One 
officer was designated as director for personnel development, 
and he initiated action to create an inventory of people. 
Appraisal forms were reproduced and distributed to those 
asked to rate their subordinates. The development director 
soon found that the president was one of the least interested 
appraisers and that he passed off the job as not important. 
His attitude was reflected in conversations with other officers 
in the company, and very shortly most of the responsible 
executives treated appraisals as "a waste of an administrator's 
time." As a result, the director of personnel development 
was soon relieved from what turned out to be a frustrating 
function and returned to his former work. 


Appraisal and Inventory 

The problem of the development of personnel cannot be 
solved by the creation of a new staff section. It requires the 
interest and attention of all responsible administrators in the 
organization, and the most important of these is the com- 
pany's chief operating executive. His support is essential 
because he establishes the tone of acceptance by the organiza- 
tion. Without the president's conviction of the value of 
efforts for the growth of people and without operating prac- 
tices which affirm his belief, any approach to a uniform 
company program is sure to fall of its own administrative 
work weight. If the program is not useful, busy adminis- 
trators very quickly shift their efforts to other tasks. 

Another problem involving appraisals which was found in a 
few companies concerned the secrecy of the appraisal forms 
after completion. In every company visited the policy was 
to send the completed forms to a special office created for 
executive development or to a section of the personnel depart- 
ment where the appraisal files on each person were among the 
most secret papers in the company. Provision was usually 
made for superiors to use the appraisal forms concerning their 
subordinates for personal discussions with the individual 
subordinates, but in no case was it intended that the files 
should be available to executives who were curious about 
their associates' ratings. 

Although the policy regarding secrecy was made clear in 
all the companies studied, in a few instances it was found that 
administrators were careless in handling the appraisal forms 
of their subordinates and in discussing rating results with 
co-workers of the man appraised. Also, indiscreet comments 
by persons in the executive development office sometimes got 
back to the people affected. Since the validity of appraisals 
depends on the expressions of judgment by those who prepare 
the ratings, it is extremely important that the confidential 
nature of this information be observed. If raters are abso- 
lutely assured that their reported conclusions on subordinates 
will not be taken lightly or bandied about in casual conversa- 
tions, it is possible to get full appraisals reflecting the rater's 
real conclusions. Violation of this assurance was found to 
result in favorable appraisals only, which are not useful. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

Another important reason for maintaining the confidential 
nature of appraisals is that an individual's growth and devel- 
opment are in a very real sense personal matters between him 
and his immediate superior. To have his status and progress 
a topic of conversation by co-workers jeopardizes his incentive. 
Precautions must be established early in the initiation of a 
development program to restrict the availability of appraisals 
to those who are in positions to use the results for constructive 
purposes. Statements of policy must be followed by continu- 
ous efforts by responsible administrators to see that the policy 
is observed. The damage to individual incentive upon learn- 
ing "so that is what the boss really thinks of me" is almost 
irreparable. Such occurrences contribute to an undermining 
of the whole development program in a company. 

Replacement Tables 

In addition to the use of appraisal results as a basis for 
taking affirmative action for the growth and development of 
company personnel (discussed later in Chapters V, VI, and 
VII) appraisal forms can be used by management in the 
preparation of a replacement table. This table consists of 
designating on paper the replacements for each administrative 
position in the organization. Sometimes the table includes 
with each replacement name shown a letter or numerical 
grade which indicates the present qualification to occupy the 
position for which the man is named as a replacement. 

The accompanying replacement table was included for 
illustration in the "Manual of the Executive Development 
Program" used in a large eastern company. 

The preparation of a replacement table serves a useful 
purpose, especially in a large company, in that as an adminis- 
trative tool it defines the present condition of the organization 
and focuses attention on those areas in which replacements 
are weak. There are, however, some factors to take into 
account in the use of such a table. 

Persons designated as replacements for others in the organ- 
ization as a matter of policy should not be told that they are 
replacements for any particular position. The executives of 
several companies stressed the importance of following this 


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The Growth and Development of Executives 

principle and provided situations which illustrated the validity 
of the general conclusion. One situation, for example, was 
suggested by the controller of a large southern company. 
The controller indicated to a division head in the con- 
troller's office that within a few months he would replace a 
regional controller out in the field. Several months passed, 
and the regional controller who '.was slated for replacement 
did some work which demonstrated his ability to keep the 
job. Accordingly, it was not practicable or desirable to 
replace him. The man who was scheduled to be promoted 
to the regional controller's position grew more and more 
restless as his promised assignment was not announced, and 
within the year resigned to work for another company. This 
type of situation and others make it dangerous to earmark a 
man and tell him that he is to replace someone at a higher 
level. So many things can happen to require a change in 
replacement plans that a replacement schedule or plan 
should not be divulged to those affected. 

As a second and related factor, the replacement plan 
should be flexible and subject to change as frequently as neces- 
sary. In a company which operated through several sub- 
sidiary organizations, the executive development committee 
prescribed the preparation of replacement tables for each 
subsidiary and stated that after the separate tables had been 
prepared and approved by the headquarters office, changes 
could be made only with the express approval of the executive 
committee. The committee also provided that the subsidiary 
manager could submit a revised table for approval only every 
six months. In this company the table was regarded as an 
automatic promotion schedule, and if a subsidiary manager 
wished to deviate from it, he would have to get an exception 
approved at the home office. Theoretically, there was value 
in trying to maintain some stability in the replacement tables, 
but it soon became apparent that the subsidiary managers, 
as a matter of practice, violated the policy by making promo- 
tions at the lower and middle levels of the organization with- 
out headquarters' approval. They pointed out that the 
number of changes in job assignment and the varying degrees 
of development of people at these two levels made it imprac- 


Appraisal and Inventory 

ticable to get home office approval on every deviation from 
the replacement schedule. Some flexibility was necessary to 
provide for these changes which occurred frequently and 
which directly affected the desirability of following a replace- 
ment schedule prepared months earlier. As a tentative out- 
line of a replacement plan, a schedule serves a useful purpose, 
but it cannot be regarded as a rigid and automatic promotion 

Executive Personnel Files 

In the companies studied in which appraisal forms were 
used, a confidential file was maintained for each person. This 
usually contained appraisals for previous years and some sort 
of qualification record which summarized the appraisal 
results and listed other pertinent data relating to the indi- 
vidual, such as personal history (age, weight, marital status, 
etc.), education, business experience (with present and other 
companies), special schools or training courses attended while 
employed, and a summary statement with regard to the em- 
ployee's potential growth. In some companies the qualifica- 
tion record was a cumulative record, and in others a new and 
complete record was prepared after each annual appraisal. 
In one company the personal file for each person served as a 
collection point for evidence which bore on the man's capaci- 
ties on the job. For example, if he prepared a report, a copy 
of the report, together with comments by his superior, was sent 
to his file. 

The purpose of executive personnel files, as explained by 
several executives, was to establish permanent historical 
records for each person so as to avoid dependence on the 
memories of superiors and to serve as a reference file when 
special development programs were being formulated or 
when men were being considered for promotion. The formal 
records were found to be useful in medium-size and large 
companies where the numbers of people concerned were 
considerable. In small companies where from 5 to 25 admin- 
istrators were involved, personal files were not commonly 
used because of the intimate knowledge and relationships 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

which existed among the personnel. If executive personnel 
files were used, the information was regarded as secret and 
available only to those whose responsibilities included their 
appropriate use. 

Knowledge of the abilities and capacities of the human 
assets in a business organization is prerequisite not only to the 
effective utilization of these assets today but also to the formu- 
lation of plans and programs for the development of people 
for future management positions. Many executives reported 
that they "just did not know whether able people were to be 
found in the middle and lower levels of management" in their 
companies. It was observed that the techniques and methods 
presently available and used for the measurement of admin- 
istrative abilities in people are not precise and absolute. The 
executives of several companies, however, reported that an 
objective appraisal of a man's performance on the job provides 
the best clues and guides as to what his abilities and capacities 
are. Systematic and periodic appraisals by superiors of 
subordinates' job performance constitute the most effective 
method found for the measurement of the human assets in 
business organizations. In the preparation of personnel 
appraisal forms, the utmost care must be exercised to assure 
fair, valid, and useful results. Slipshod and casual filling out 
of appraisal forms is potentially more dangerous than no 
appraisal system because of the possibly irreparable damage 
to the careers of men and because of the faulty management 
decisions resulting from misleading basic information. 

In some companies psychological and other tests are used 
for the measurement of administrative capacities. These will 
be discussed briefly in Chapter IV. 



Psychological Tests 

Discussions with executives early in this study of manufac- 
turing companies indicated that there was a general lack of 
understanding as to the value and place of psychological tests 
in the appraisal of personal abilities and traits. Some execu- 
tives thought of psychological tests as basic and essential ele- 
ments of a personnel development program. One, for ex- 
ample, stated that his company wanted to start a program, 
but he was not sure how people in the organization would 
react to tests of their abilities. With a real possibility that 
existing employees would resist a testing procedure, it was 
impossible to start a development program. Another said 
that he had no faith in tests, and since the tests were necessary 
to define strengths and weaknesses, he was precluded from 
taking any affirmative action for the development of people. 
Another executive, asked by the president to study executive 
development programs of other companies as the first step 
toward initiating one for their organization, devoted most of 
his investigation to the details of psychological tests. His 
study of the validity of tests left many unanswered questions, 
and the company remains without any planned program 
because of his confusion as to the place of tests. 

The result of these and other conversations on the subject 
of tests was that considerable attention was given to the testing 
practices of companies in which more or less active executive 
development programs were in effect. Since the writer is not 
a psychologist, no effort was made to appraise the technical 
aspects of individual tests or to evaluate the merits of one 
psychologist's test as against another's. Efforts were made, 
however, to determine and appraise critically the experiences 
reported by executives who have used tests. The results 
reported here as findings represent the experiences of about 
35 manufacturing companies. It is believed that these com- 
panies constitute a sufficiently representative sample to pro- 

[8 3 ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

vide guides for other business executives who are concerned 

with the problems of executive development. 

Perhaps the most important conclusion on tests is that no 

test or group of tests was found which could be used by every 
company to measure accurately executive traits. Some com- 
mercially minded psychologists, pseudo-psychologists, and 
others have made extravagant claims with regard to the 
universal applicability of their testing procedures, but no 
substantial evidence was found which supported the claims. 
It is unfortunate that a few have engaged in practices border- 
ing on charlatanism, first, because some companies have 
wasted money and effort by accepting the glib representa- 
tions, and, secondly, because considerable damage has been 
done to the responsible and reputable psychologists whose 
scientific approaches hold real promise in this important field 
of study. 

In some companies standard commercial testing procedures 
were regularly used. In one middle western company, for 
example, substantially the same tests have been used during 
the last ten years. Initially all employees were given the 
tests, and thereafter satisfactory test results were required as a 
prerequisite to employment of new personnel. A vice presi- 
dent stated that the tests took all the guesswork out of person- 
nel.appraisals. If the results indicated that a man would be a 
good^administrator, he would be; and if the results indicated 
that^he would not do well in an administrative position, he 
certainly would not be successful. "Sometimes," he added, 
"a man selected may not work out on the job, but that is no 
fault of the tests." 

*It v/as noteworthy that in this company no studies were 
ever made to determine the validity of the tests. In addition 
to the number of recommended men who "did not work out 
on the job," it was not known how many good men were 
denied employment because they did not meet the standards 
of the tests. 

The importance of validating the results of a test program 
was illustrated by the experience of an eastern manufacturing 
company. This company, which presently employs about 
1,000 people, has grown continuously during the past 15 


Psychological Tests 

years. In 1935 the president established a requirement that 
all prospective employees, other than hourly workers in the 
plant, should be tested by a psychological service operating 
in a near-by city. At first no person was hired who was not 
recommended by the psychological service, but later execu- 
tives who interviewed applicants made exceptions to this 
stated policy. In the sales department, for example, the vice 
president in charge of sales depended exclusively on inter- 
views for the employment of new salesmen and disregarded 
completely the results of the psychological tests. 

Early in 1949 a young psychologist was added to the staff 
of the personnel department, and as a starting step he made 
an investigation of the testing program. He asked the depart- 
ment heads to describe each of their employees as "success- 
ful," "average," or "unsuccessful." With this information 
he related the appraisal of each employee to the psychological 
test results reported and with the recommendations of the 
psychological service as to employment. He found that there 
was no correlation at all; that is, there were as many men 
who were not recommended for employment who were suc- 
cessful on the job as there were men recommended for em- 
ployment who turned out to be unsuccessful on the job. Since 
the tests did not serve a useful purpose in the appraisal of per- 
sonnel in this company, the use of the service was terminated. 

Several other similar experiences were reported by the 
executives of other companies. These suggest that executives 
presently using standard psychological tests might profitably 
examine carefully the validity of the tests in terms of their 
results. Admittedly, the use of a simple administrative tool 
such as psychological tests provides a beguiling and easy 
substitute for judgment. One psychologist suggested that 
some executives depend on tests completely for the reason 
that, if the man selected does not work out, the tests and not 
the executives are held accountable. It is believed that 
thoroughgoing examinations of results in the light of test 
results are desirable in those companies in which standard 
tests are now used. 

For those executives who were contemplating the use of 
standard psychological tests, one psychologist suggested that, 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

before making any commitment to such a service, it would be 
desirable to make an investigation to determine the experience 
of other companies that have used the service. Included 
should be companies that once used the service as well as 
companies continuing to utilize tests for their appraisals. In 
each case efforts should be made to determine whether valida- 
tion studies have been made and with what results. 

The conclusion that no standard test or tests were found 
which accurately measure people as executives does not mean, 
of course, that there is no contribution to be made by psychol- 
ogists in the appraisal of personnel. The foregoing cases were 
discussed to emphasize that packaged tests intended for wide 
commercial use in many situations do not provide appraisal 
answers which can validly serve as substitutes for executive 
judgment. Many executives and psychologists pointed out 
that some standard tests can be used. The results, however, 
should be treated not as conclusive answers but as information 
which merely adds facts to be taken into account in the exer- 
cise of administrative judgment. 

Based on discussions during the study, the opinion was 
reached that five main categories of tests seem to be used. 
These will be listed and commented upon briefly. 

i. Intelligence Tests 

Tests to measure intelligence were developed rapidly 
during and after World War I. Originally created to ap- 
praise intellectual aptitudes for success in school work, they 
have been used extensively in business situations. While 
it is probably true that a superior intelligence is required for 
some administrative positions, there exist no useful criteria 
today as to the level of intelligence required for administrative 
success at any specific level of business organizations. Some 
companies have defined intelligence standards for their in- 
dividual organizations, but it is extremely doubtful if these 
results have application beyond the company for which the 
studies were made, except on a broad and general basis. 

In some companies intelligence tests are given to existing 
personnel and applicants for jobs, not for the definition of how 
far in the organization a particular man can go, but only for 


Psychological Tests 

the elimination or reassignment of persons with very inferior 
intellectual capacities. Other companies depend upon ob- 
servations by superiors for the appraisal of intelligence. 

Possession of a college degree is no assurance that a man 
is intelligent or above the minimum intelligence level desired. 
In one company a man with a degree of Bachelor of Science 
from a well-known university was employed as an engineer. 
Shortly after this man began to work, his supervisor found 
him to be intellectually weak and then investigated his college 
record. There it developed that the man had been in con- 
tinuous residence at the university for ten years in order to 
complete a four-year engineering program and that he had 
taken some courses as many as six times before getting a 
passing grade. This rather dramatic example is hardly a 
typical situation, and no particular importance should be 
given to it as such. Many less extreme examples, however, 
establish the value of suggesting caution against accepting 
certificates or statements of educational achievement as con- 
clusive evidence of intellectual capacity. 

2 . Proficiency Tests 

These tests are used mainly for the measurement of learned 
skills such as typing, spelling, accounting, and so on. Such 
tests may be useful in the appraisal of persons who work at the 
organization level of technicians or technical specialists, but 
so far there is no conclusive evidence that this type of test is 
effective in measuring the factors involved in executive abil- 

3. Aptitude Tests 

These tests are used largely for the measurement of special 
aptitudes such as those required in welding, assembling of 
small electrical parts, flying an airplane, engineering, or 
medicine. Again, these tests may be useful in selecting indi- 
viduals for certain professional jobs or specialties, but they 
are not applicable to administrative positions in general. 

4. Vocational Interest Tests 

For the present these tests are believed to be of dubious 
value for the appraisal of people for administrative positions. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

Most vocational interest tests have been developed with the 
hypothesis that men who enjoy taking part in the same sort of 
activities (anything from "weeding a garden" or "repairing 
a clock" to "watching a hockey game," "rock climbing," 
and "constructing tables and charts," to illustrate commonly 
included types of activities) as do men who have been success- 
ful in a particular type of work will also be successful in the 
same kind of work. This hypothesis has a certain common- 
sense appeal in that it is true in the experience of most men 
that they perform more effectively in those activities they 
enjoy greatly than they do in activities that they dislike. The 
hypothesis also receives a sort of back-handed support in the 
fact that groups of men in different occupations as groups do 
tend to have different patterns of interests on these tests. 

One difficulty with the hypothesis above is that observed 
differences on the tests may in fact be the result of the job 
experience itself and not a necessary prerequisite for success 
on the job. That is, they may be results and not causes of 
success. Furthermore, few attempts have been made to 
compare the scores on such tests made by executives and 
administrators with the scores of subordinates in the same 
types of work. Much more study needs to be done before 
there can be any effective identification of executive talent 
by scores on an interest test or inventory. 

The shortcomings of this type of test are summarized by 
Dr. Lewis B. Ward in commenting on the "Strong Vocational 
Interest Inventory": 

There is real question, too, whether it is desirable 
personnel policy that all of those selected for particular 
jobs be cast in the same mold, so to speak. In most situa- 
tions, except for traits and abilities demonstrably related 
to success or failure, differences in background, interests, 
and abilities among employees should probably be sought 
rather than avoided. Also, as a practical matter, few 
companies can afford to limit themselves in their selection 
to too small a fraction of those applying for jobs. 

What has been said should in no sense be interpreted 
as implying that it is of no value for an employer to study 


Psychological Tests 

the interests, abilities, and traits of individuals who are 
successful in the jobs which he is interested in filling. 
The point is, rather, that having determined as far as 
possible what the traits and abilities of those who are 
successful on the job are, it is necessary, to go further and 
determine which of these qualities, either singly or in 
combination, actually play a part in determining job 
success. 1 

5. Personality Tests 

During the past several years considerable attention has 
been given to the personality factors required in executive 
positions. As was discussed earlier, investigation of the quan- 
titative and qualitative factors involved in administrative 
positions is complicated by the absence of any such thing as 
the executive position, by the lack of objective criteria as to 
what is a good executive, and by the interdependency of 
human traits and abilities. 

Unfortunately, some of those who have engaged in scientific 
or quasi-scientific studies of executive personalities have been 
eager to exploit their findings in a commercial way. As a 
result, many business executives today are convinced of the 
lack of value of all kinds of personality testing. 

Again, however, it is suggested that psychology does have a 
contribution to make in appraising personality traits. The 
experience of many companies suggests that qualified psychol- 
ogists working within the environment of a company organ- 
ization can add to the information desired in the appraisal of 
people. But the company must be prepared to provide oppor- 
tunities for careful studies by a qualified psychologist within 
the organization. This requirement may or may not mean that 
the psychologist becomes a full-time member of the company's 
organization. Many companies were found in which psychol- 
ogists were retained on a part-time basis. It is only through 
research within a company, however, that it may be possible 
to define useful personality factors for executive positions. 
A few companies have engaged full-time or part-time psychol- 

1 Lewis B. Ward, "Personnel Testing," Harvard Business Review, March, 1948, 
pp. 188-189. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

ogists on this basis. Perhaps the most striking conclusion 
derived from discussions with some of these psychologists 
was their modesty as to the validity of their findings on per- 
sonality factors. 

In companies which to date have done little on an organized 
basis for the growth and development of their personnel and 
in which there is now real interest in initiating a program, the 
steps outlined in Chapters II and III can be taken without 
the benefit of the psychologist's advice. In a sense the work 
of psychologists may be regarded as a refinement of any partic- 
ular company's program. Many companies have made 
progress on their development programs without counsel from 
psychologists, and it is erroneous to believe that such counsel 
is necessary before anything effective can be done. 

For those companies that desire to improve the selection 
of men for executive positions through the use of psychological 
tests, the procedure followed by a large eastern company may 
prove useful. The vice president in charge of personnel re- 
ported that he secured from business friends the names of 
several possible psychologists and personnel consulting serv- 
ices. In deciding which service to use, he tried to use the 
same care executives would exercise in the selection of a public 
accounting firm or a law firm. He visited the offices of the 
possible services, discussed the problem as he saw it, and 
secured the names of existing and former clients. After 
checking with the clients, he contracted with one of the 
services to start work immediately. 

The vice president of personnel considered it noteworthy 
that, when he discussed the possibility of using personnel 
tests with a representative of the psychological service selected, 
the representative stated that there were about 600 or 700 
standard tests in existence which might be used, but there 
was no assurance that any would be of value in this company. 
A thoroughgoing investigation of the company and its per- 
sonnel, as well as related policies, would be necessary before 
any conclusions could be made on the advisability or the 
construction of tests. 

Another executive, commenting on the problem of selecting 
an outside psychological or personnel consulting service, 


Psychological Tests 

stated that executives should beware of any service which 
offered a cheap, quick, and easy answer and of any service 
which claimed to be able to solve personnel problems by a 
testing procedure without knowing the details of the organiza- 
tion and the real characteristics of the problem. He sup- 
ported his conclusions by citing the efforts of a psychologist 
to solve a high turnover problem with testing procedures. 
When these did not reduce the turnover, a reputable person- 
nel consulting firm investigated the situation and found that 
the wage scale in the company was the lowest in the area, 
that there was almost a complete lack of communication 
between management and the hourly workers, and that 
workers resigned for reasons other than those relating to poor 
selection. In this case there certainly were no known tests 
which could solve the personnel problem as eventually 

These first four chapters have been concerned primarily 
with essentially preliminary steps to affirmative and construc- 
tive action for the growth and development of administrators. 
Defining the requirements of each executive position and 
appraising the human assets in the organization have inde- 
pendent value as administrative tools. But what is done 
pursuant to the information revealed by the two preliminary 
steps represents the heart of executive development. The 
methods that seem to be most effective for the growth and 
development of executives will be presented in Chapters V, 
VI, and VII. 



Approaches for Growth and Development 

In every business organization something is done with regard 
to the growth and development of its members. This action 
is inevitable. It arises out of day-to-day operations because 
people at work learn. The challenge of on-the-job develop- 
ment consists of finding ways of helping individuals to learn 
those skills and to develop more quickly those capacities 
which will provide realization of their potential abilities as 
better administrators. 

What appears to be a not very profound conclusion of this 
study is that in the development of executives people learn 
by doing, or, in other words, according to the oft-quoted 
statement, "There is no substitute for experience." The 
situations studied indicate that the most effective way of 
developing administrators is through the performance of the 
day-to-day requirements of administrative positions. The 
process of administration does not consist in dealing with 
static units of matter with fixed, known, and predictable 
reactions. If this were the case, reading a book or memorizing 
a series of rules on administration presumably would qualify 
anyone as an executive. In practice, it has been found that 
few reliable rules or dependable guide posts exist for the 
automatic solution of administrative problems. Each admin- 
istrator therefore should have opportunities to practice his 
skills and to exercise his capacities if he is to occupy positions 
of administrative responsibility. 

It was indicated earlier in this study that the qualifications 
of an executive do not conform to a pattern of known and 
definitive elements. Studies of representative samples of 
executives come forth with few if any factors which uniquely 
characterize the executive. Whatever elements are defined 
or suggested are related and interdependent, and today there 
exists no optimum quantity of given qualities. Also, as was 
stated earlier, it was found that on the basis of individual 


Approaches for Growth and Development 

experiences in their organizations, some companies have 
arrived at broad statements of the desirable intelligence, job 
knowledge, administrative skills, and personality factors 
required for each administrative position. Because these 
several elements of the executive lack objective definition 
and proportion and because they are interdependent and 
interrelated, it was impossible to prescribe a development 
approach which would change one element without affecting 
the others. For example, in one company it was believed 
that the position of credit manager required experience as a 
salesman in the field and as a supervising salesman in a branch 
office. In job progressions of candidates for the position of 
credit manager, certainly those given experience in sales were 
affected by more than just the job knowledge of what was 
involved in dealing with customers. Their administrative 
skills in dealing with people and their personality traits also 
were affected, whether for better or worse cannot be stated. 
This point is stressed to emphasize that individual growth is a 
complex and interrelated matter and that any development 
measure must be regarded as a contribution to the total 
growth of the individuals concerned. 

Another aspect of on-the-job development is that inasmuch 
as administrative positions vary within a company and among 
companies (that is, the requirements of a sales manager's 
position in one organization are different from those for a 
sales manager's position in another organization), men can 
learn by working in the business environment in which they 
hope to progress. The capacities and skills they acquire have 
meanings in working relationships. There is no need, there- 
fore, for solving the problem of adapting a skill, for example, 
a skill learned in a classroom, to living and real situations on 
the job. 

Planned Progression 

To avoid what many executives described as serious short- 
comings in their job experiences, many companies have pre- 
pared plans for the orderly progression of men from the lower 
levels of the organization to the upper levels of management. 
The purpose of a planned progression is to assure that able 
men are given opportunities to gain sequential job knowledge, 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

that is, job knowledge believed to be required in order to 
fulfill the administrative responsibilities of higher positions. 
There are differences of opinion among students and prac- 
tices of administration as to whether administrators need be 
well grounded in the technical aspects of their positions. One 
group contends that the administrator can direct business 
operations even though he knows nothing about the tech- 
niques or processes involved. They add that, since the execu- 
tive gets things done through people, he need have only com- 
petent people, and administration consists essentially of 
getting them to work together. To support this view, in- 
stances are cited where able financial executives took over 
manufacturing plants during the war and turned in enviable 
production and profit records. 

The other side of this controversy, and the one which has 
the support of most of the executives consulted during this 
project, is that technical competence is essential to adminis- 
tration. If a man is to occupy a position as sales manager of a 
drug products company, for example, he ought to know, pre- 
ferably through experience, what is involved in performing 
all the various sales functions for which he is responsible. If 
a man is to be production superintendent, he ought to know 
the processes, methods, and techniques used in the plant in 
order to do an effective job of administering the plant. 

The importance of job experience and familiarity with the 
facts of operations was illustrated by an instance suggested 
by a vice president of a large eastern company. Fifteen years 
ago when the Roe Company was dominated by its founder, 
Mr. L. E. Roe, his son, Virgil, was appointed vice president 
in charge of finance. Virgil had been graduated from college 
a year before and while touring Europe had received word 
that the financial vice president of the Roe Company had 
died unexpectedly. Virgil returned home immediately and 
began work as successor to the deceased officer. After a year 
on the job, it became apparent that he had no basis or stand- 
ards for appraising the work of his subordinates, and that 
instead of directing their responsibilities, he was largely di- 
rected by the subordinates. Several unfortunate mistakes 
were made when he approved recommendations made by 


Approaches for Growth and Development 

subordinates in the financial department, and he asked to be 
relieved. This example was provided by Mr. Virgil Roe, vice 
president in charge of finance of the Roe Company in 1 949, 
who added that when he first had the job, he did not know 
what the subordinates were talking about and therefore could 
not judge the validity of their recommendations. He recog- 
nized his lack of knowledge of financial matters and took a 
subordinate position in the treasurer's department of another 
company. After several years' experience he returned to the 
Roe Company and later became vice president in charge of 

It is difficult to generalize from examples of success or 
failure with or without technical competence, but most 
executives interviewed stated that personal competence in the 
business function involved was essential. According to one 
writer, however: "Sometimes an exceptional leader can 
effectively guide technical operations in which he has no 
special competence, whereas those of high competence are 
often not successful leaders. I shall not attempt a general 
explanation of these facts; but on the whole we may regard 
leadership without technical competence as increasingly 
exceptional, unless for the most general work. Usually 
leaders, even though not extraordinarily expert, appear to 
have an understanding of the technological or technical work 
which they guide, particularly in its relation to the activities 
and situations with which they deal. In fact, we usually 
assume that a leader will have considerable knowledge and 
experience in the specifically technical aspects of the work he 
directs." 1 

In some companies a study of the organization chart and 
of the job requirements in terms of business knowledge has 
made possible the determination of paths of progression from 
the bottom of the organization to an upper level position. In 
these companies it was noteworthy that there were several 
alternative paths and not a single rigid one. Substantially 
similar business knowledge could be secured from several 
different positions, many times at the same level in the organ- 
Barnard, The Nature of Leadership, p. 6. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

ization; and this situation provided flexibility in the plan so 
that able men could be promoted, even though there was no 
vacancy in their immediate department. 

Planning paths of progression through a business organiza- 
tion does not mean, of course, that the plan cannot be changed 
or modified to meet operating conditions or that men cannot 
be promoted into positions for which they do not presently 
possess all the experience requirements stated in the specifica- 
tions. This statement is made because several executives 
resisted the adoption of the progression concept on account 
of misapprehension as to its rigidities. Executives explained 
the progression approach as representing an effort to plan 
the experience growth of men rather than to leave this growth 
to the haphazard elements of chance. Not much can be done 
through job rotation to expand the job experiences of upper 
levels of management, but the benefits of various job experi- 
ences can be realized as soon as those in the path of progression 
move forward one or more steps. And, as more and more men 
are given broader job knowledge on a planned basis, the 
executives of 1 5 years from now will not have the shortcomings 
in experience reported by those who occupy those positions 

In one company in which detailed experience requirements 
were stated for each position in the organization, the job 
specification sheet listed the higher positions to which execu- 
tives ordinarily were promoted from their present jobs. For 
example, according to the executive specification record, the 
supervisor of warehouse operations could be promoted, after 
further specified training, to manager of warehousing, or 
general manager of transportation and warehousing, or 
manager of traffic. 

The job specification sheets of another company listed the 
usual lines of promotion and noted the jobs from which and 
to which men could be promoted. For instance, after stating 
the experience requirements of a subsidiary controller, the 
specification sheet indicated that a man could be promoted to 
subsidiary controller from a position as chief accountant, 
budget manager, controller of a small plant, or assistant to a 
controller. Also, from the job as plant controller he could be 


Approaches for Growth and Development 

promoted to plant manager or controller of the headquarters 

The vice president in charge of personnel in a large eastern 
company reported that planning the "experience exposure" 
of the company's employees represented the core of the devel- 
opment program. By giving more people opportunity to work 
at the various key jobs at a plant, for example, he found it 
possible not only to strengthen their capacities to do a better 
administrative job in their present positions but also to create 
a broader base of supply of people to be considered for pro- 
motions to higher positions. He acknowledged that the 
process was costly in that the company did not get direct and 
commensurate production returns when men occupied jobs 
for relatively short periods of time and moved on to other 
experience posts. The return in terms of greater effectiveness 
as administrators in upper positions, he believed, however, 
compensated for the loss while learning at the lower levels of 
management. In this company the plan of moving men 
through the organization was not limited to those at the lower 
or middle levels but extended throughout the company up to 
the level of vice president. 

The sales department of this company was responsible for 
the distribution of several lines of products through several 
different channels of distribution. In the formulation of the 
desired experience progression, it was decided that a sales 
branch manager should have experience selling most of the 
lines to the different kinds of customers. This policy involved 
moving men horizontally across organizational product lines. 
Care was taken, however, never to reduce a man's income to 
achieve the benefit of experience in the distribution of different 
lines of products. It was explained that since for the different 
lines, different kinds of customers, different credit problems, 
and different sales and promotion problems were involved, 
sales branch managers, to do their job well, must have experi- 
ence in the field with the many and varying products and 

The products of a large company manufacturing consumer 
items with headquarters on the Pacific Coast were distributed 
nationally through 7 regional divisions and 58 strategically 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

located branch sales offices. The division managers were 
responsible for all sales in their regions and had between 7 and 
1 o branches to do the actual selling. Each branch was headed 
by a manager, who directed 2 or 3 supervisory salesmen and 
8 to 10 salesmen who called on grocery stores. The vice 
president in charge of sales in the headquarters office had an 
assistant sales manager and a merchandising manager as his 
two key subordinates. The company's products were divided 
into 6 major lines, each of which had a product merchandiser 
who reported to the merchandising manager. In order to 
provide the desired experience as men progressed up through 
the sales department, the path started with the salesman on 
the road. His next step was to the job of supervisory salesman 
and then to the headquarters office as a product merchandiser. 
The purpose of this plan was to have men at the level of 
product merchandisers who knew from experience what prob- 
lems were encountered at the lowest sales level. From product 
merchandising, men were promoted to branch sales manager- 
ships, then to positions as assistant to the assistant sales man- 
ager. From here the planned path of progression provided 
for assignment to positions as division sales managers and 
later to merchandising manager, assistant to the sales manager, 
if qualified, from which position selection was made for the 
job of vice president in charge of sales. 

These steps constituted the plan, and it represented an 
attempt to have men in middle and upper supervisory posi- 
tions who understood not only the basic selling problems but 
also the intermediate administrative sales problems. The vice 
president reported that too often in his experience men oc- 
cupied upper level sales supervisory positions who had never 
been face to face with a customer. They had never learned 
from experience what problems were involved, and therefore, 
in participating in the formulation of sales policies, they had 
mythical and frequently erroneous concepts of sales facts. 
He added, "and besides, they assume the pious attitudes 
which we call headquarteritis." The plan is now in operation, 
although its complete fulfillment will require several years. 
It is noteworthy, however, as recognition of the importance 
of experience and as an attempt to substitute planned pro- 
gression for haphazard chance. 


Approaches for Growth and Development 

In those companies where there was a program of planned 
progression, it should be emphasized that logical and desirable 
paths were laid out and efforts were made to keep them open 
for advancement. This procedure should be distinguished 
from planning completely and in detail the careers of the men 
who would follow those paths of progression. Several dangers 
were found in plotting an individual's progress through a suc- 
cession of positions. Probably the most significant was that 
different men progress at different rates of speed. Some can 
achieve a satisfactory level of mastery of a position in six 
months, others may require a year or longer, and still others 
may never perform adequately on a given job. 

In one company the executives stated that they believed a 
man should occupy an assigned job not less than 6 months, 
because from their experience it took 6 months to learn what 
was involved in the job. Less time resulted in superficial 
knowledge. The maximum length of time was determined by 
the man's capacities and by the opportunities available for 
moving him to another position. In some cases men were 
kept in positions as long as 12 to 18 months after they had 
shown evidence of job mastery, but those responsible for the 
personnel progression program stated that they tried to keep 
able men in the same position not longer than 1 2 months. 

Another reason for not plotting a man's career through 
more than one or two steps is that the man may not perform 
well on an intermediate job and therefore it may not be desir- 
able to promote him any higher. On several occasions execu- 
tives reported that they had been disappointed by men who 
were believed to be "comers" — "men who will go far in the 
company." In one case the progress of a man was plotted 
15 or 20 years ahead, and having made this plan, executives 
began to depend on its successful fulfillment. After 2 or 3 
years the man reached his peak level of accomplishment, 
and executives concluded that it would be a mistake to force 
the man into higher jobs for which he had shown he was not 

Despite efforts to make careful selection of able people, and 
despite the affirmative efforts of executives to provide for 
experience deemed to be useful for a man's growth, a variety 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

of causes may preclude realization of long-term growth plans 
of personnel. In some cases the individual involved may have 
been misjudged when employed; in others something may 
have affected the man's motivation. In one situation a 
promising department head in a plant lost interest in his work 
after inheriting $150,000. There are many factors which can 
affect and change people's capacities to perform as adminis- 
trators, and it thus becomes necessary to plan their upward 
movements in the organization one or two steps at a time. 

Several executives acknowledged that they had erred in 
telling subordinates what jobs they would be promoted 
through and to over the years. When, for any one of many 
possible reasons, assignments to these positions were not 
possible for subordinates, ill feelings and disappointments 
followed. One executive stated that the only thing he tells 
subordinates now is that each new job assignment is a step of 
progress, and that the individual man must prove himself on 
that job in order to qualify for positions of higher respon- 

There is another aspect of planning paths of progression and 
time in various jobs that was found to be significant. Any 
plan, no matter how carefully prepared, must be adaptable 
and subject to change to serve the exigencies of business operat- 
ing conditions. One of the errors of preparing and adminis- 
tering a method of giving men progressively greater business 
experiences lies in giving the movement of personnel a higher 
priority than the task of meeting the requirements of profitable 
management. In one eastern company, for example, in 
which operations were largely decentralized in six regional 
divisions, the sales manager of the southern division was 
regarded as the best candidate to succeed the headquarters 
office vice president in charge of sales. The southern division 
sales manager's experiences, however, had been exclusively 
in subordinate echelons, and in order to prepare him for the 
vice president's position, headquarters executives believed 
that the man should be brought into the home office for a few 
years' experience in dealing with policy formulation at that 
level. Top executives recognized that no adequate replace- 
ment was available and that the southern division sales man- 


Approaches for Growth and Development 

ager occupied a unique relationship with important customers 
in that area. They concluded, therefore, that the sales 
manager should be kept in his present position with suitable 
increases in compensation and that other candidates should 
be prepared to succeed the vice president of sales when he 
retired. Without discussing the possibility and feasibility of 
other solutions to this succession problem, the situation illus- 
trates the importance of subjugating the logics of a plan for 
personnel to the demands of a market and competition in that 
market. It is likely that the southern division sales manager 
will spend his remaining years with the company in that posi- 
tion, but such compromises between effectively using available 
manpower and providing experience and opportunity for 
advancement must be made. 

In addition to the job knowledge provided by progression 
through an organization, some companies take supplementary 
steps to develop further and to appraise continuously the able 
people in lower level positions. In one company, for instance, 
men in the three lower levels move from one experience posi- 
tion to another, and in each job they are asked to study desig- 
nated current problems and to write reports with recommend- 
ed solutions. As the level of jobs goes higher, the complexity 
and nature of business problems are expanded. In all cases 
several men from the same level are asked to work on the same 
problem individually and to submit individual reports. 

The business problem may require the men to determine 
facts and figures from other sections, and this procedure serves 
two main purposes. First, the men working on the report 
learn what is done in other phases of the business and, second- 
ly, those from whom information is sought have the oppor- 
tunity of sizing up the man in a working situation. After the 
reports are submitted, they are used by the superior in the 
organization who has the responsibility of making the decision 
on the problem studied. Usually the superior will grade the 
reports and prepare written comments on strengths and 
weaknesses. The comment sheets are used as a basis of dis- 
cussion with the individual man and then are added- to the 
man's personal file for future reference. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

Requiring men to work outside their immediate functional 
job expands their job knowledge and develops their awareness 
of the relations between various phases of the company's 
operations. Special projects to work on also have the ad- 
vantage of providing additional information to be used in 
arriving at a fair appraisal of the men. Men working on the 
projects know they will be measured by the results, and there- 
fore are stimulated to do thoroughgoing jobs on the reports. 

The concept of broadening job knowledge through work on 
stated projects is not without its disadvantages and limitations. 
Because the men know that others from the same level are 
working on the same problem, and that the results will be 
entered as part of their annual appraisal, there is sharp compe- 
tition among the men, competition for ideas and competition 
for favorable comments to be included in the personnel folders. 
The emphasis on individual performance discourages group 
work and group participation. Sometimes the competition 
among men results in ugly manifestations of pettiness and 
jealousies which disrupt rather than encourage group efforts. 
Top executives who prescribed the program probably are 
unaware of these shortcomings, but at the level of participants 
the feelings sometimes become deep and bitter. 

It is possible that the benefit of special project work might 
be realized without the inevitable human conflicts if individual 
men were asked to work on individual problems. This plan 
would relieve the organization of some of the competitive 
disadvantages and would provide a basis for appraising the 
capacities of the men involved. Another variation to en- 
courage and emphasize cooperative efforts in organizations 
would be to assign to a group of four or five men the respon- 
sibility of investigating a problem and recommending a 
course of action. Such an approach would develop rather 
than destroy the individual's capacity to work with and get 
things done through people. 

Rotation Among Business Functions 

It was found that one of the common business problems in 
manufacturing companies — and studies of nonmanufacturing 
companies indicate that the problem is not unique to man- 


Approaches for Growth and Development 

ufacturing organizations — is that progression from the lower 
levels up through the organization is typically limited to a 
specific function; that is, if a man starts as a salesman, his 
path of progress is likely to be up through the several echelons 
of the sales department. If he starts in production, he can 
expect to progress only through production department posi- 
tions. This procedure is inherent, particularly in the large- 
size organizations where effective operations depend upon 
functional specialization. 

Concern over this problem was manifested in several ways. 
It was stated that sales department people have no under- 
standing of production and procurement problems. For 
instance, a sales decision is made to run a special promotion 
of a product, and frequently the first word the production 
people have on the need for more output is by reading the 
newspapers. Several classical examples were found of this 
experience to confirm its validity. In one situation the pro- 
curement department, in order to have raw materials avail- 
able immediately, was compelled, in this emergency, to enter 
a commodity market at a disadvantageous time. 

Sales executives likewise commented bitterly that produc- 
tion people do not recognize the competitive advantages re- 
sulting from delivering the goods in quantities when the 
customers want them and not when production personnel 
find it convenient from a scheduling point of view to fill 
orders. Also, some sales department executives stated that 
credit managers have little appreciation of what is involved in 
securing a substantial order. Credit men, in turn, reported 
that sales department executives would sell anyone anything 
in order to meet their sales quotas, even if it meant virtually 
giving the products to companies which could not pay. 
Examples of such situations are so familiar to business execu- 
tives that further elaboration is unnecessary. 

In some companies, in an effort to resolve the misunder- 
standing which results because sales executives do not appre- 
ciate the problems of the production department, and vice 
versa, men from one department are rotated among positions 
in other departments. It was found during this study that 
the transfer of men across functional lines in the lower levels 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

of management was feasible except in those situations where 
technical knowledge and training were required as prereq- 
uisites. Many companies have found that shifting people 
from one function to another not only gave those transferred 
a broad understanding of the whole enterprise, but also 
assisted the men and the management in finding work situa- 
tions which were best for the men transferred. These objec- 
tives are accomplished by many companies through the so- 
called 1 8-month to 2-year training program for new employees 
hired from colleges. The program essentially consists of 
transferring men from department to department so that they 
can, as one executive said, "find their niche." 

The practicability of shifting men across functional lines at 
middle or top management levels is not so clear. This prac- 
tice is followed in some companies, but the risks of moving a 
department head in sales to an equivalent position in produc- 
tion in order to give broader experience have discouraged 
other managements which have considered this method of 
development. No manufacturing company studied for this 
project was found in which men from middle and upper man- 
agement levels were rotated across functional lines. Perhaps 
the best known example of this practice is found in the Con- 
solidated Edison Company of New York. 1 

Some of the executives of manufacturing companies indi- 
cated that rotation at the higher levels was an expensive way 
to create interfunctional understanding. If a man is trans- 
ferred from a division sales job to a division manufacturing 
job, the responsibilities of positions at this level are so great 
that errors in judgment resulting from lack of knowledge 
about production operations are very costly. To meet this 
objection some companies have created "assistant to" posi- 
tions for the upper levels so that a production man will learn 
by assisting a sales department or division head but will not 
be required to assume the full responsibilities of the job. In 
other companies executives stated that the creation of special 
"assistant to" jobs for the development of men was too expen- 
sive in that higher-level men are higher-salaried personnel. 

^'Consolidated Edison Pre-Selects Tomorrow's Executives," Electrical Light and 
Power, April, 1949, pp. 62-67. 




The supply of executive manpower in business corporations ever 
needs replenishing. Expansion of operations, retirements, and 
other circumstances cause vacancies to occur which must be filled. 
Frequently there is a dearth of well- qualified candidates for filling 
vacancies both in top management positions and at lower admin- 
istrative levels. 

In this report Professor Myles L. Mace presents the results of 
his first-hand observations on the manner in which numerous 
industrial companies are undertaking to develop administrative 
talent. The author is Associate Professor of Business Administra- 
tion at the Harvard Business School. 

The following abstract was prepared by the Division of Re- 

This book examines the policies, formal programs, informal 
approaches, and practices of manufacturing companies known or 
reported to be doing effectively "something" about the development 
of men for responsible management positions. 

From the very beginning no statistical survey of executive develop- 
ment in manufacturing companies was intended. Rather, efforts 
were made to determine by selective inquiry what seem to be the 
main elements of a constructive approach for the growth of men in a 
manufacturing company. Several companies of a nonmanufactur- 
ing type were visited, and as a consequence the author believes that 
the program elements presented in this report apply, in general, to 
business organizations other than manufacturing. It is hoped that 
the experiences reported by the executives of the twenty-five com- 
panies studied in detail and by the many officers and directors of 
other companies not so fully covered provide sufficient evidence to 
suggest a sound approach to the problem. 

Companies today, more than ever before, are made up of groups 
of specialists. This functional specialization has tended to limit the 
points of view of potential executives and to confine them to very 
narrow areas. The specialization goes beyond functional specializa- 
tion such as sales, production, and finance. The result is that by the 
time a man has progressed upward in the organization and is a 
candidate for a position of wider responsibilities, it is too late in his 
career to give him actual experience in other areas of the business. 

The purpose of this report is to present a critical appraisal of the 
growth and development methods found in the companies studied 
and to define some of the elements of a useful approach. What is an 
executive? What are his capacities and skills? Is there an optimum 
combination of personal traits? Can these be defined and measured? 
What does an executive do? How does he do it? Can executive 
abilities be developed? How? What are the problems confronting 
the management of a company in which the decision has been made 
to "develop" organization personnel? These questions and many 
others occur in any discussion of executive development, and answers 
and part answers will be considered in this book. 

To be sure, there are differences in the requirements of job knowl- 
edge, skills, and personality traits, but the one common thread found 
in all organizations is the job of the leader to get things done through 
group effort. 

For the purposes of developing executives in individual organizations 
no universally applicable list of quantities of qualities was found 
during the course of this study. The executive capacities and skills 
required in each situation will vary, and the determination of what is 
required must be arrived at in terms of the working environment in 
which they are exercised. 

After the desired standards for each administrative position in the 
organization have been defined, appraisals of the people are neces- 
sary so that the qualities of the man can be matched against the 
specified requirements of the job. But, in addition, the appraisals 
serve as a pin point of personal weaknesses for development attention 
and are an important incentive to the employees appraised. 

The appraisal process is a method of inventorying the human 
assets of an organization on a systematic and orderly basis. And the 
purpose of periodic and systematic appraisals is an effort to make 
the process as objective as possible, even though it is recognized that 
the techniques for personal appraisal lack absolutely trustworthy 

The preparation of job specifications and of an inventory of 
personnel are largely preliminary steps to the useful core of a com- 
plete executive development program. 

A major conclusion of this study is that the most effective way of 
learning what is involved in the performance of executive functions 
is by doing. People learn by doing, and no adequate substitute was 
observed during the course of this study. The best classroom possible 
is to be found in the work situation but, unfortunately, many 
organizations do not take advantage of its educational possibilities. 

The evidence on what was involved in learning by doing indicated 
two main segments of the topic, job progression and coaching of 

subordinates by superiors. With regard to job progression it was 
found that in many companies substantive job knowledge was 
defined for each administrative position, and then planned paths of 
progression to provide the required job knowledge were defined. 
Planning the job knowledge steps for potential upper-level executives 
is far better than leaving the accumulation of this knowledge to 
chance and fortuitous assignment. 

Inasmuch as people learn by doing, the superior officer is the 
real determinant of what his subordinates learn on the job. To 
emphasize the affirmative role of the superior, the process by which 
superiors get things done through subordinates is described as 
coaching. What is involved in coaching does not constitute some 
new method or practice for dealing with subordinates. Rather, 
coaching represents another way of looking at the administrative 
process. Coaching is administration, and administration is coaching. 

The elements involved in coaching are divided into five major 

i. Subordinates must be given opportunities to perform. 

2. The superior must counsel subordinates, using the work situa- 
tion as the framework for counseling. 

3. The superior must create a team of his subordinates, sometimes 
described as motivation. 

4. The relationship between superior and subordinates must be 
characterized as one of mutual confidence, a climate of con- 

5. The superior must set the standards of performance. 

The elements are suggested as a framework of standards for the 
guidance of men interested in multiplying their effectiveness through 
the utilization of the capacities of others. 

Whether the administrator observes these standards in the per- 
formance of his job depends largely upon his own basic attitudes. 
Therefore, getting coaches to coach requires management effort 
directed toward a reshaping of the attitudes of executives. 

Three main approaches to getting coaches to coach are sug- 

1 . The adoption and adherence in practice of a policy that success 
in developing subordinates constitutes an important element in 
the appraisals of the superiors themselves. 

2. The example of the president or chief operating executive. 

3. The organization of case discussion conferences for adminis- 

The key figure in the organization with regard to competency is 
the chief operating executive. He sets the policy and the example 
for the whole organization. If he observes in practice the elements 
of coaching, his example becomes the real policy of the company. 

This report on executive development might be discouraging to 
those who are looking for quick and easy methods. None were 
found. Rather, providing for the growth of personal abilities and 
capacities requires time and patience. As we learn more about the 
human assets of business organizations, improvements in methods 
and approaches are likely to shorten the time required. But it must 
be remembered that essentially education is a slow process. 

(Harvard Business School, Division of Research, Soldiers Field, 
Boston 63, Massachusetts, 1950. x -f- 200 pages, $3.25) 

Approaches for Growth and Development 

While there would be some net contribution to operations 
by men occupying "assistant to" positions during the period 
of assignment, it would not be commensurate with the payroll 
expenses of that department. Several executives voiced 
another objection to the "assistant to" method of strengthen- 
ing the job knowledge of functional specialists, namely, that it 
was impossible to appraise a man's growth in knowledge or 
ability when he did not have the full responsibility for the 
position. As an observer he might learn something, but the 
"whitewash of an 'assistant to' " title precluded the man from 
ever gaining real insight into the nature of the job for which 
he was assistant. In addition, they stated that what an as- 
sistant brought in from another function learned on the job 
depended in large measure upon the functional specialist for 
whom he worked. Unless the executive responsible for the 
work made real efforts to help the assistant acquire job 
knowledge through work, "the tenure as assistant would be 
enjoyed as a paid vacation." 

Again, this problem is not one for which there are general- 
ized and useful answers. The size, nature, and complexity 
of a company's operations will be factors to consider, in addi- 
tion to the cost of rotation. Other methods for broadening 
the experience and job knowledge of able people in business 
organizations will be discussed in Chapters VI and VII, but 
the problem is noted here because some companies have expe- 
rimented with and adopted rotation across functional lines 
as an approach to greater functional understanding in their 

In companies of small and medium size where, because of 
the nature of their operations, administrative personnel work 
together continuously and intimately, the possibilities of cross 
functional rotation may prove useful except in positions 
requiring technical knowledge. It should be added that in 
companies of these sizes, the problem of specialization is not 
so acute and the need accordingly is not so great. In large 
companies, on the other hand, where the premise of successful 
operations is the performance by specialists of specialized jobs, 
the problem is acute, and measures are needed to create 
greater functional understanding among executives. The 

[ 105 ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

experience of the manufacturing companies studied indicates 
that the decision to transfer men across functional lines at 
middle and upper levels of management in large companies 
should be made only after careful consideration and with full 
recognition of the factors involved which were discussed 
in previous paragraphs. 




The extent to which people learn executive abilities and 
skills through on-the-job experience depends in large part 
upon the immediate superior to whom the subordinates are 
responsible. The role and responsibilities of the immediate 
superiors are described in this study as "coaching." 

If the superior has no interest in the development of his 
subordinates and never or rarely gives them opportunity to 
learn by doing, the subordinates are not likely to grow in 
experience and abilities. Many examples typical of this 
situation were found. In one large eastern company, for 
instance, a vice president of sales reported that one of his 
department heads, in charge of scheduling, reached his top 
level of promotion several years ago. As seniority was dis- 
regarded in promoting others who were younger and had 
fewer years of service with the company, the department 
head became more and more jealous of his position. He 
tried to do everything himself, never permitted his subordi- 
nates to discuss business matters with higher executives, and 
resisted any proposals to assign able subordinates to other 
phases of sales operations. Two years ago the vice president 
brought one of the best sales branch managers into head- 
quarters and assigned him to the scheduling department to 
learn the problems involved. With this experience it was 
expected that the branch manager would be moved into a 
higher administrative position in the sales department. The 
vice president stated that the sales branch manager has 
learned something about scheduling operations in two years, 
but at his present rate of growth he will have to stay in sched- 
uling about ten years in order to gain the experience desired 
for promotion. 

In this case the sales branch manager was effectively pre- 
cluded by his superior from getting the experience intended 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

by his assignment to the scheduling department. Many 
degrees of similar actions by superiors were found during this 
study. In a few cases exceptionally ingenious subordinates 
were able to devise methods of circumventing the stifling 
efforts of superiors, but more often the subordinates accepted 
the situation and did the best they could under the circum- 

Many other examples, however, were found in which 
superiors were consciously aware of the opportunities of en- 
couraging the growth of subordinates through performance of 
day-to-day jobs. These examples constitute the basis for concluding 
that the most effective way of providing for the growth and development 
of people in manufacturing organizations is through the conscious 
coaching of subordinates by their immediate superiors. 

Strategically, the superior is in the best possible position to 
accomplish the objective of subordinates 5 growth. He knows, 
or should know, the subordinates as individuals better than 
anyone else in the organization. To utilize their abilities 
effectively he must know their strengths and their weaknesses. 
As a result of working with the subordinates over a period of 
time, the superior learns which subordinates do specific things 
well and the individual abilities and capacities that need 
strengthening. The similarity of the coaching relationship 
between the administrator and subordinates and between the 
baseball manager and players is striking. 1 In both cases 
accomplishing their different objectives requires managerial 
knowledge of personal strengths and weaknesses. The base- 
ball manager is not likely to win ball games without this 
knowledge, and the executive is not likely to do so effective an 
administrative task if he does not know the relative values of 
the human assets at his disposal. 

There is another reason why the superior occupies the ideal 
relationship for the promotion of growth in subordinates. 

x Lou Boudreau, Saturday Evening Post, April 23, 1949. "[Tris] Speaker was a 
member last spring of the most expensive coaching staff ever gathered together in 
baseball. I am a firm believer in the importance of coaching. I am convinced 
competent teaching can short cut many of the lessons most ball players have had 
to learn by experience alone. That doesn't sound especially revolutionary, but 
until fairly recently the coaches on most big league clubs were either pensioners 
appointed by the owner or old pals of the manager's playing days. They were 
paid little and contributed proportionately to the club's welfare." 



The superior has the opportunities, arising out of the perform- 
ance of day-to-day jobs, to help subordinates through giving 
them working tasks which will augment and strengthen their 
capacities. People do learn by doing, but the speed with 
which they learn and the scope of their learning can be 
increased by the efforts of the superior to give subordinates 
opportunities to work on those jobs which strengthen their 
weaknesses. Also, when the subordinate completes an operat- 
ing task, the occasion is provided for objective counseling. 
The learning process is thereby related to a concrete working 
situation which is part of the environment in which the subor- 
dinate hopes to grow and progress. 

Can development of subordinates be accomplished in the 
work situation by others than the immediate superiors? In 
several of the companies studied attempts were made to dele- 
gate this function to a staff section. In most cases the person- 
nel department was asked to do the job. Evidence indicated 
conclusively that although the personnel department has an 
important place in a program for the growth and development 
of people, which will be discussed later, affirmative coaching 
is a line and not a staff responsibility. 2 

In a large middle western manufacturing company the 
personnel department was given the job of "developing men 

2 "Experiences in many and varied situations in which training has been at- 
tempted led the writer to the conviction that training is an integral part of the 
management function and cannot easily be delegated. The logical and psycho- 
logical point at which training can best take place is between an individual and 
his immediate superior. Any other arrangement necessitates such a close and 
comprehensive liaison between trainer and line management as is seldom achieved. 
The proper duties of the training consultant as the staff man to whom the problem 
of training has been assigned are not the conducting of training courses. This may 
appear at first to be helpful; actually it is an inefficient procedure and is often 
deleterious to management in the long run. The training consultant's objective 
should be to restore and to implement, not to perform the training function for 
management. He should work to create an awareness at all levels of management 
of the importance of training. He should make available to management resources 
for training in the form of materials and methods. He should assist in the diag- 
nosis of training needs and in the development of training programs. He should 
stimulate and guide the evaluation of training programs, both completed and in 
process. He should, in short, help management to acquire the skills and under- 
standings it needs to do the job for itself." 

Role Playing and Management Training, Alex Bavelas, Publications in Social 
Science, Series 2, No. 21, Department of Economics and Social Science, Massa- 
chusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Reprinted from So- 
ciatry, Vol. I, No. 2, June, 1947. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

for management." Operating administrators assumed there- 
fore that they were absolved from any affirmative action and 
that the whole job would be done by the personnel group. 
The personnel people tried several methods including con- 
ferences, lectures, movies, and on-the-job counseling. It 
became apparent, however, that since the personnel employees 
were staff and not operating men, much of the material that 
was presented to help people grow was unreal and had little 
relationship to the working environment on the job. After 
more than a year of experimentation, members of the top 
management group concluded that operations and personnel 
could not be separated. In a very real sense every executive 
was his own personnel officer. After this discovery the policy 
was defined and established that every administrator in the 
organization should be responsible for the development of 
subordinates on the job, and this approach continues in effect 
throughout the company today. 

Giving to personnel departments the task of developing 
administrators disregards the not uncommon conclusion 
among the companies studied that operating executives think 
of personnel departments as staff people who want to organize 
"training courses." In addition to their resentment at being 
"trained," some executives question what a nonoperating 
staff man could teach them. "What do they know about 
sales, advertising, premiums, production methods, and so 
on?" is a frequent question. And a vice president will add, 
"The personnel people who purport to tell me how to be a 
better administrator and who now occupy jobs of the first or 
second level in our organization have never administered 
anything in their lives!" 

In some situations the company executives raised the rela- 
tive stature in the organization of personnel department 
employees by having the man in charge of training report to 
the president. "Yet," a vice president of one company stated, 
"that doesn't make those in personnel know any more about 
administrative problems than they did before, and it hasn't 
changed their desire to organize a training program." 

In another situation outside consultants were employed to 
"do something about executive development." The con- 



sultants interpreted their mandate to mean taking affirmative 
steps to strengthen individuals in the organization rather than 
installing an approach or method. Here again conferences 
were conducted and personal counseling was tried by the 
outsiders, but after a short experience the efforts were termi- 
nated. And again it was recognized by the top executives that 
outside consultants could not reasonably expect to understand 
the business methods and business working environment 
sufficiently to provide useful on-the-job development. 

There are many ways in which personnel department men 
can counsel, advise, and assist operating administrators in 
developing their subordinates. But it must be recognized 
that the effective utilization of subordinate manpower and 
provision for the development of this manpower cannot be 
separated into two separate functions. The basic responsibil- 
ity for development by its nature inherently rests with the 
superior. 3 

3 Mason Haire, "Some Problems of Industrial Training," The Journal of Social 
Issues, Summer 1948, pp. 44-45. 

"In his paper in this issue ["Some Problems of Organizational Change"], 
Bavelas has put his finger on a very important part of the reason why our 
classroom training is so apt to stay in the classroom. The purpose of training 
is to produce a change in behavior. Existing behavior patterns are part of, 
and are moulded by the culture of the work-group as a whole. It is exceeding- 
ly difficult to produce in an individual a behavior-change that violates the cul- 
ture in which his behavior is imbedded. Unfortunately, the members of the 
Personnel Department's Training Staff only control the culture in the very 
limited area of their training classrooms. 

"... Line management is doing the training whether it wants to or not, and 
it is doing it all day every day. 

"In many cases we try to forget this responsibility, and to hope that we can 
undo an existing bad situation by devoting a weekly half-hour training session 
to a statement of what would be a better one. This seems to be pure escapism. 
To test this, think of the many plants that profess an 'open door' policy in 
employee's handbooks, orientation lectures, and annual get-togethers. But, 
in these same plants, let one of the employees walk through the big boss's open 
door. In how many of them would he 'learn' by the secretary's startled 
amazement and the look of annoyance at interruption, what the policy really 
is? All of these little things — the way the foreman says 'hello,' the manner 
in which a suggestion is received, the responsibility given a subordinate, the 
approbation given to a fast deal — are things that do the consistent day-to-day 

"These conclusions seem to add up to a discouraging total for industrial 
training. Line management should do training since they control the culture 
and only they can prevent classroom-encapsulation. Training for a given 
group should be done by the group's immediate superiors, since they control 
the culture most immediately. Line management is training all day every day 
by shaping the work environment." 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

In many companies this conclusion has not been accepted. 
The managements assume that the personnel department, 
through its organized conference meetings, semiannual din- 
ners where top executives review the last period of operations, 
and offers to pay tuition for those employees who wish to at- 
tend night school, is doing the job needed for the growth and 
development of people. These activities may have places in a 
total program which is based on growth on the job, but with- 
out such a fundamental basis, they constitute peripheral 
approaches which do not attack the real problems. 

Solutions to the problems of providing for growth and devel- 
opment would be considerably easier and simpler if it were 
possible to engage the services of experts. Experts in this area 
can do a great deal to get a program for the development of 
men for management started, but as experts they cannot do 
the effective job which superiors by their position in the organ- 
ization can do for their subordinates. 

Coaching and Administration 

It was observed during this study that many executives, in 
discussing their job responsibilities, tend to emphasize decision- 
making, carrying jobs through to completion, and other posi- 
tive acts which stress the role of the executive as an important 
person but which disregard the role of the executive in getting 
these things done through an organization of people. The 
element which distinguishes the administrator from the single 
man, who can rely only on his own capacities, is the ability to 
organize and direct the energies of a group of people for the 
accomplishment of a stated objective. The way in which the 
administrator carries out this task is a phenomenon, then, of relation- 
ships. Therefore a study of the relations between superior and 
subordinates may help in our understanding of the "how" of 
the administrative process. 

The objective of the executive's job, in other words, the 
coach's job, is to utilize the abilities and capacities of others. 
Effective utilization means developing the latent potential of 
subordinates. Coaching subordinates is therefore not some 
technique to be adopted and used by administrators as a tool, 
a method, or a device. It is a way of administration; it is 



Many executives suggested analogous relationships to indi- 
cate the significance of the inescapable unity of coaching and 
administration. One executive stated that the relationship 
of the administrator to his subordinates was something like 
the relationship of a farmer to his wheat crop. The farmer 
does not grow wheat. The wheat grows, but the success or 
failure of the crop depends in large part upon what the farmer 
does or does not do about helping it to grow. 

Another executive said that the father as head of a family 
was similar to an administrator. The father does not develop 
a family. The children grow and develop themselves, but the 
nature and extent of growth depend not alone on inherited 
qualities but in large part on the environment within which 
they live, an environment where the father is a major figure. 
We gain little by considering the differences of opinion be- 
tween inheritance and environment, but the analogy holds 
if we accept the belief that environment has "something to 
do" with the growth of people. 4 And it is the day-to-day job 
environment which is established and controlled in large part 
by the superior. 

It became clear very early in this study that the individual 
techniques, methods, and tricks of the trade employed by 
executives in administering their organizations were not useful 
as such to others. In fact, there were some real dangers in 
assuming that their applicability and appropriateness went 
beyond the particular circumstances where they were used. 
Since each administrator operates with a different group, 
and the individual group characteristics may change with 
changing personnel in the group; and since each adminis- 
trator is a different personality, reporting practices as such 
did not seem to be of value. There was the danger, too, that 
spelling out a list of things to do and not to do might be inter- 
preted as a code of conduct for executives. "If I do these 
things, I will be a good administrator." The manifestations 
and methods of administrative action cannot be listed from 
one executive's experience and applied to another's without 

4 In passing, I suspect that a substantial fraction of the reason some writers on 
the subject distrust and deprecate the influence of environment on children is due 
to a lack of understanding as to what is a "good" environment for growth to re- 
sponsible maturity. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

insight as to the conditions existing in the relationship. If 
such a list of methods were the requirement for effective 
executive action, there would be no dearth of administrators. 

In one situation an executive, regarded as a "crab" by his 
subordinates, envied the administrative success of a friend 
who said his "secret" of success was to smile at everyone 
when he first met them in the morning. The executive made 
an earnest and careful effort thereafter to smile at his subordi- 
nates, but the only result was increased resentment by his 
employees who grew suspicious of the boss's real motives. 

More fundamental factors than synthetic and unnatural 
artifices are involved in the "how" of coaching, or administra- 
tion, and throughout this study efforts were made to determine 
the common elements which were found in the executive 
actions observed. The purpose of trying to determine the 
common elements of coaching was to establish guides for 
executives interested in promoting the growth and develop- 
ment of their subordinates. The guides are phrased in general 
terms and supported with specific instances. They can be 
used by executives as guides only, however, because applica- 
tion to concrete situations will depend upon the personal 
characteristics of the superior and the subordinates. 

Opportunity to Perform 

Learning by doing necessarily requires that subordinates 
have the opportunities to fulfill on-the-job administrative 
responsibilities. It was found during the study that executives 
generally regarded as axiomatic the importance of depending 
on subordinates' work. Sometimes the acceptance of the 
concept was phrased in terms of delegating authority and 
responsibility, and sometimes it was phrased as getting things 
done through the people in the organization. Notwithstand- 
ing the verbal acceptance of the idea that subordinates be 
given opportunities to perform on the job, many of these 
executives did not in fact give their subordinates opportunities 
to exercise executive skills and abilities. 

Reluctance or complete failure to allow subordinates to 
practice administration could be traced to many sources. In 
some cases the executive had spent so many years as a doer, 



an operator, that his basic habits of work required his doing 
everything himself. Promotion to an administrative position 
changed his relationship to the jobs to be done, but it did not 
change his accustomed ways of doing things. In other situa- 
tions the executive consciously delegated authority to a 
subordinate and then hovered over the subordinate to prevent 
him from making mistakes. The executive explained that 
this administrative conduct was for the purpose of helping the 
subordinates, but the results were that the subordinates were 
hindered rather than helped because of the ever-present 
directing hand of the boss. It was no kindness of the superior 
to help the subordinate in this way. Rather, great damage 
was done to the subordinate's learning process. 

Another common explanation of the inability of subordi- 
nates to learn by doing was the lack of confidence or the 
insecurity found in the superior himself. This situation was 
particularly true of executives at the middle-management 
level. They resisted attempts by subordinates to carry jobs 
through to completion (which sometimes involved dealing 
with executives at a higher level than the immediate superior), 
and insisted that the focal point of all administrative work 
should be in the superior's office. There were varying degrees 
of this tendency, but quite commonly in these cases the 
superior tried to handle all details. The result was that 
subordinates worked as clerks who collected and summarized 
information for the superior's action. 

Numerous instances were found where older executives, 
many beyond the typical retirement ages of 65 or 68, main- 
tained their administrative positions and resisted any proposal 
to turn over management responsibilities for the development 
of younger men. Examples will occur to the reader as will the 
explanations given to justify such a man's continuing to serve 
in executive jobs. In one company the president, 73 years 
old, stated that there was no one in the organization qualified 
to succeed him, and he planned to stay on the job until he 
died. In another company the 75-year-old president said 
he thought he ought to stay on "while a refinancing took 
place and for whatever additional years were necessary." 
Another 70-year-old president stated that 65 was too young 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

to retire and that somebody ought to study the economic 
losses resulting from men retiring at 65, just when they began 
to understand administration. 

Circumstances will vary among companies in which execu- 
tives stay on the job beyond normal or typical retirement. 
There are situations where, because of death or resignation, 
potential top management personnel are not available to 
succeed those beyond retirement ages. Furthermore, as 
noted previously, the war with its drain on administrative 
talent in business made it necessary for older men to carry the 
management load longer than planned. It is believed, how- 
ever, that in those companies where men are beyond the 
retirement age, a careful re-examination of the circumstances 
is desirable. Perhaps in some cases the reason men are not 
available is that the top executives have done nothing to pro- 
vide for their growth. In other cases resignations of able 
middle-management men may have been caused by the un- 
willingness of top management to provide opportunities for 
growth and progression. Admittedly, there are problems in 
determining the real situation, especially when the people 
involved are executives occupying top management positions. 
But such executives actually wrong the corporations which 
they direct by compounding the shortcomings of administra- 
tive action which precludes opportunities for younger men to 
learn by doing. Administrators cannot live forever, and un- 
less provision is made to develop successors in anticipation of 
the event, unforeseen death of top executives may push man- 
agement responsibilities on unprepared men. 5 

"Responsibility is one of the greatest developers of men." 
This statement was repeated over and over again by execu- 
tives who occupied key positions in large and small businesses. 
Sometimes it reflected the basic approach of the company to 

5 Owen D. Young, Life Magazine, November 7, 1949, p. 42. 

"... I have often said that a man's career resembles a water wheel on which the 
leverage of each bucket increases, reaches a maximum and then diminishes as the 
wheel turns. In line with that, I suspect that a man can be of maximum use only 
to his own generation. After he has passed the peak of his own participation in 
affairs, he must see things from a less applicable, and hence a less valid, point .of 
view than that of the men who are directly concerned. It may be, of course, that 
all that is merely an argument which I use to quiet my conscience when it accuses 
me of being lazy. But I really believe that more harm is done by old men who 
cling to their influence than by young men who anticipate it." 



the development of administrative manpower, and sometimes 
it represented the operating policy of a vice president for his 
department. In all cases it constituted an expression of 
conviction of the importance of giving people opportunities 
to learn by doing the job. 

Mr. Westerlake, a vice president of one of the subsidiary 
divisions of a large eastern manufacturing company, started 
two years ago to create an administrative organization to 
carry on after his retirement in 1954. When Mr. Westerlake 
joined the company in 1941, very little had been done in the 
production of a particular line of chemicals. Mr. Wester- 
lake's previous experience included some work in this area, 
and he was brought in to direct expanded operations in the 
field. Working with an organization of less than 20 men 
during the early years, he made virtually all the buying, 
selling, and financial decisions. With the construction of two 
new factories, however, the organization expanded, and it was 
necessary for Mr. Westerlake to select and develop personnel 
for the key administrative positions. The parent company 
strictly observed a policy of promotion from within, so that 
when additional men were needed for the expanded line of 
chemicals, men were transferred from other parts of the 
business. The new chemical line involved different produc- 
tion techniques, different channels of distribution, and differ- 
ent sources of raw material supply. When men were brought 
into the new chemical division, Mr. Westerlake regarded as 
part of his job the responsibility of preparing them for their 
new positions. This responsibility meant working directly 
with the key people, and it meant seeing that the key people 
gave attention to the development of their subordinates. 

Mr. Westerlake illustrated all the elements of coaching on 
the job, which will be discussed, and reference will be made 
to this situation in the presentation of other elements of 
coaching. With regard to giving subordinates opportunity 
to learn by working on the job, Mr. Westerlake delegated 
authority and responsibility to key men as fast as they could 
take them. This basic approach was confirmed by subordi- 
nates who reported, "Westerlake always seemed to give us 
jobs which extended us a little beyond what we knew from 
experience we could do." 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The learning process is not greatly expanded through the 
performance of similar operating tasks over and over again. 
To be sure, the subordinate develops greater skill in handling 
the task, but his growth is not so great as when the superior 
consciously extends the subordinate into areas involving other 
administrative skills. Determining when and how to develop 
subordinates' administrative capacities by giving them tasks 
which extend them requires considerable insight, knowledge 
of subordinates, and skill by the superior. If new work is 
assigned too quickly and before the subordinate is ready, the 
subordinate is likely to become frustrated. But if new and 
challenging opportunities are not provided, "able men," 
reported one executive, "will either quit or rest on their oars." 
Certainly there is no rule to follow in assigning new work 
opportunities; the nature of the tasks and the degree of 
achievement shown by the subordinate will be controlling 
factors in the exercise of judgment by the superior as to what 
and when to give new opportunities. 

Situations will vary among companies with regard to the 
extent to which subordinates can be given opportunities to 
learn by doing. In Mr. Westerlake's organization the ex- 
pansion program with new personnel provided innumerable 
chances to develop subordinates by giving them work in 
areas other than those in which they had skills. Mr. Wester- 
lake stated that the personnel requirements of the expansion 
plus the gyrations in the raw material market resulted in 
giving key men ten years' administrative experience each 
year. In other companies operations may be relatively static, 
and the superiors must exercise some ingenuity in finding and 
using new opportunities which are available for the develop- 
ment of subordinates. If the superiors in static companies, 
however, will use those opportunities which are part of their 
existing operations and will provide subordinates with these 
opportunities to perform and grow, considerable progress will 
have been made toward their development. 

In addition to taking advantage of the opportunities avail- 
able, superiors must exercise discriminatory judgment in 
assigning work to subordinates who need strengthening. 
This task involves a basic conflict between getting the job 



done immediately and with the best immediate results, and 
getting the job done, perhaps less well, but contributing to 
the growth of a man who is thereby developed for greater 
productivity later. Management emphasis is frequently 
placed on the first alternative with the explanation, "Ours is 
a competitive business, and we cannot afford the time and 
energy necessary to develop the abilities of someone who 
needs the experience." And to this statement they will add, 
"Besides, we do not live in the long run; we live in the short 
run — today and tomorrow." 

This justification for not taking advantage of the opportuni- 
ties present in the day-to-day operations of a business may 
have validity in some situations at some times. There are 
occasions when the stress of time and competition requires 
that a department's best available talent be brought to the 
problems at hand. There are other times, however, when 
the nature of the administrative task and the circumstances 
permit the use of the opportunity for development purposes. 
To follow a general policy that looks only to the short run 
truly is a short-run point of view and one which denies the 
importance of developing men for future positions of respon- 
sibility. • 

In a sharply competitive segment of the branded drug 
industry, the Roland Company followed a policy of develop- 
ing key people through on-the-job experiences. Here each 
superior was charged with the responsibility of developing 
the subordinates who report to him. The sales manager of 
one line of the company's products had five division heads 
reporting to him, one of whom was weak in writing effectively. 
Since promotional material and letters to salesmen required 
an ability to write, the sales manager had the responsibility 
of correcting this deficiency in the division head. Whenever 
a writing job came up, the sales manager assigned the task to 
this division head. The first writing assignments involved 
preparing instructions for use to accompany a drug product. 
As the division head's faculty increased, additional and more 
difficult assignments were given until, after two years of 
writing experience, he was doing a creditable and satisfactory 
job on the kind of writing that was needed in that sales de- 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The sales manager remarked that many times during the 
development period it would have been considerably easier 
to do the writing job himself or to assign it to someone known 
to have the ability. Such procedure would not, however, 
have done more than meet the requirements of the moment, 
and would have deprived a potential key man of the oppor- 
tunities to learn by doing. 

The president of a large eastern food processing company 
reported that when he was a young man in the procurement 
department his boss sponsored him for admission to the floor 
of a commodity exchange as a trader. On the first day he was 
authorized to trade on the floor, the procurement department 
head told him to represent the company on all sales and 
purchases. He had full authority to buy and sell grain. In 
recounting this experience the president stated that the oppor- 
tunity to learn by doing was the finest thing that could have 
happened to him because he was obliged to take responsibility. 
He added that the present members of top management of the 
company must fight against the tendency to make decisions 
themselves and for the right of growing men to develop by 
making mistakes. 

Giving subordinates opportunities to perform is a basic 
element of the coaching process. Acceptance of the concept 
logically and intellectually is relatively easy, but practicing 
the full meaning of the concept is very difficult, especially 
for those superiors who have not already established the 
practice as their method of administration. Many situations 
were found in which executives made sincere efforts to dele- 
gate jobs to subordinates, but when "something came up, the 
string would be pulled" and the delegating executive would 
take over the task. 

In one company a vice president charged with the task of 
coordinating research with production and sales reported 
that he had conscientiously tried to depend on his subordinates 
who were much more familiar with the details of research 
projects than he. He added, however, that several times he 
had undermined his subordinates' relationships with research 
personnel by calling the research department directly. For 
instance, at an executive meeting the vice president in charge 



of sales asked when it would be possible to initiate promotion 
of a new improvement of an existing product. Production 
of the improved product was known to be in the pilot plant 
stage, but the sales vice president was working on a promotion 
plan and desired to use the new advantages of the product for 
advertising. The vice president for research coordination 
called the research department directly, rather than his 
subordinate who was handling the project. The head of the 
research department reported that an additional centrifugal 
was needed and that when it had been installed, and produc- 
tion had been tested on a small scale, full-scale production 
might be started in three months. With this information, the 
coordination vice president returned to his office and made 
arrangements to secure a centrifugal. Later, he learned that 
the subordinate responsible for the project was aware of the 
need of a centrifugal and had arranged to have one delivered 
in two days. 

These actions by the research coordinator not only inter- 
rupted the arrangements which were made for the handling 
of the project for the product improvement, but also, and 
more importantly, qualified and restricted his subordinate's 
relationships with the research department personnel. Quan- 
titative measures of the damage done were not possible in 
these types of situations, but subordinates reported personal 
reactions ranging from "the director never lets me carry a job 
all the way" to "the research people call the director now 
when they really want something and call me on minor 
details." In the case cited as illustration, the research coordi- 
nator reported that he recognized the importance of depend- 
ing on subordinates, but, "It's awfully easy to cross them up; 
I hope I am improving." 

Many executives in reviewing their business careers re- 
ported that the "best" bosses they had were those who gave 
them authority and responsibility for the achievement of their 
respective jobs. The "least good" bosses were those who 
maintained close supervision and directed how and when jobs 
were to be done. The absence of statistical completeness 
does not preclude conclusions as to administrative meaning. 
Since administrators learn by doing, opportunities must be 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

provided. Whether or not these opportunities are provided 
depends entirely upon the superiors of the subordinates. The 
superior controls the work situation, and development there- 
fore turns on the extent to which the superior allows subordi- 
nates to grow and progress by doing the jobs involved. Per- 
haps this is the meaning of the oft-quoted statement, "There 
is no substitute for experience." 


When subordinates are given opportunities to perform on 
the job, the occasion is provided for affirmative counseling 
by the superior. The meaning of "counseling" must be 
defined, for it was found that some executives regarded the 
term as equivalent to holding a court of domestic relations; 
others thought of "counseling" as meaning career counseling. 
Although counseling as the affirmative element of coaching 
may include discussing a domestic problem or a career decision 
with subordinates, the primary emphasis is intended to be on 
helping the subordinate to learn the "how" of administration. 
This learning may involve job knowledge, administrative 
skills, or personality adjustments, but by relating the coun- 
seling to the jobs done in the work situation, superiors can 
contribute effectively to the growth of subordinates. 

In several situations a limited perspective as to the meaning 
of counseling stopped executives from advising their subordi- 
nates on any matters, whether related to their jobs or not. 
They regarded counseling as the function of psychologists and 
psychiatrists and a field in which they were not qualified to 
operate. One executive stated that in his experience subordi- 
nates were eager to have him solve their personal problems, 
and when he had advised them, they never took the responsi- 
bility for the consequences. If the suggested solution did not 
work out, the subordinate blamed the superior. The execu- 
tive in this case concluded that subordinates should solve 
their own problems and not turn to him on any matters. 

Many other executives, however, distinguished psychiatric 
and domestic-relations counseling from on-the-job counseling. 
They believed themselves to be no more qualified to handle 
social and unhealthy mental conditions than any other lay- 



man. When evidence disclosed the need for this type of help, 
they referred the individual involved to qualified specialists. 
Since instances which required the services of specialists were 
relatively rare, however, these executives did engage in on- 
the-job counseling. Perhaps this type of counseling should 
be regarded as administrative counseling or counseling of 

Counseling by the superior constitutes an effort to augment 
and strengthen the learning process which starts with doing 
tasks on the job. Given opportunities to perform, the subordi- 
nates will learn from these experiences, but they will learn 
more quickly and develop faster and further if their mistakes 
are the basis for suggested corrective measures afforded by the 
superior. The distinction here is probably that between 
unguided learning and guided learning. 

Case studies indicated that one general area of counseling 
was that provided subordinates when they assumed a new 
position. Many new relationships must be established: with 
new superiors, with new co-equals, with former co-equals, and 
with new subordinates. Several illustrations were found in 
which a man's immediate superior assisted a subordinate in 
meeting the adjustments involved. In a large eastern manu- 
facturing company, for instance, the president reported that 
when the present vice president of sales, Mr. Dunn, first took 
over the job, he irritated key executives both in the head- 
quarters office and in subsidiary corporations. The new vice 
president of sales was young, aggressive, and eager to estab- 
lish his position in the organization. The president added 
that Mr. Dunn had a tendency to "throw his weight around" 
and to "indicate to one and all that he was the boss in sales!" 
These resentments on the part of others in the company 
became known to the president when he made a trip to several 
of the subsidiaries. One subsidiary manager stated, "If 
Dunn ever comes into my shop again I will shoot the son-of- 
a-bitch on sight." Other managers reported similar reactions. 

When the president returned to the headquarters office, he 
stopped by Mr. Dunn's office and they had a two-hour con- 
ference on the problem. Mr. Dunn in his enthusiasm was 
unaware that he had offended anyone in the organization, 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

but when the president listed the incidents which had an- 
noyed the subsidiary managers and other executives, he recog- 
nized the shortcomings of his actions. The results of the con- 
ference were that thereafter Mr. Dunn exercised more care 
in his relations with others. It took considerable time for 
him to remove the feelings of animosity caused by his early 
actions, and it would be misleading to report that he learned 
how to deal with others as the result of a two-hour conference. 
His ability to work through other executives was materially 
strengthened, however, by this first and several subsequent 
conferences. The president added, "Today Mr. Dunn is a 
leading candidate to succeed me as president when I retire 
in 1950." 

In this case, if the president had not worked with Mr. 
Dunn, helping him to learn how to adjust to the new relation- 
ships involved in the position as sales manager, it was possible 
that executive resentments would have become so strong that 
removing Dunn would have been the only alternative. By 
counseling when he did, the president contributed to Mr. 
Dunn's growth, a growth which was essential for satisfactory 
performance as vice president of sales. It must be emphasized 
that the president did not solve Mr. Dunn's problem through 
counseling. The problem was solved and the growth resulted 
from what Mr. Dunn did in response to the counseling by the 

Although we have emphasized the part played by the 
superior in doing the counseling, by implication we include 
the equally important role of the subordinate. In this case 
Mr. Dunn responded to counseling and won the acceptance 
of other executives throughout the organization. This ac- 
ceptance was confirmed by executives who reported that 
"Dunn used to be a real S.O.B.; he has mellowed with age." 

Some executives believe that they have no responsibility 
for helping their subordinates by personal counseling. Several 
expressed a personal philosophy of, "It's sink or swim in this 
business and every man for himself. If a man gets into 
trouble when he takes over a new job, that is his problem, not 
mine." Following a contrary policy of counseling subordi- 
nates after taking over a new position is not justified, as some 



executives believe, on sentimental and maudlin grounds. 
Rather, it is justified on logical grounds of contributing to 
the growth of people to do better jobs and to realize their 
potential as administrators. No evidence was found indicating 
that it was "tough-minded" or "hard-boiled business" to 
neglect the opportunities available for helping subordinates 
to learn how to do better jobs as administrators. Rather, the 
reverse was found to be true, inasmuch as administration 
essentially involves realizing the benefits of the capacities of 

Another general area in which superiors have contributed 
to subordinates' growth through counseling was found in the 
development of specific administrative skills. It was noted 
earlier that some executives, accustomed to doing jobs them- 
selves, found it difficult to delegate responsibility when they 
moved into middle and upper administrative positions. Al- 
though able subordinates were available and willing to 
assume job responsibility, the executive tried to know all the 
details and to make all the decisions. In one company the 
advertising manager was appointed sales manager and during 
the following year operated the department almost as a one- 
man show. A replacement was appointed as advertising 
manager, but the sales manager continued to direct the ad- 
vertising as he had done when he was manager of advertising. 
The president observed the increasing evidences of the physi- 
cal exhaustion of the sales manager, investigated to determine 
the reasons, and then arranged a conference with this execu- 
tive. At this meeting the president pointed out that whenever 
the sales manager came in with a problem the president 
expected him to state a recommended course of action. This 
would be discussed and a decision made. The president 
raised the question as to whether the sales manager depended 
on his subordinates to the same extent and whether they had 
opportunities to do the jobs ordinarily regarded as their 
assignments. This meeting of the president and the sales 
manager was the first of many during which the sales manager 
learned how to delegate responsibility to subordinates as well 
as the importance of such procedure. 

Many variations in this area were found. In some cases 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

the superior counseled subordinates on assuming responsibil- 
ity and carrying a job through to a conclusion. In one situa- 
tion the production manager reported that whenever one of 
his subordinates came to him with a minor problem, the 
production manager merely told him, "Go ahead, get the job 
done, and do not bother me with those details." In another 
case the controller stated that one of his subordinates was 
afraid to make decisions. This timidity was corrected over 
several months by the controller's almost daily practice of 
asking the subordinate what he would do on a given problem. 
As the subordinate recognized through experience that he 
could make decisions, he began to assume more and more 
responsibility for the operations of his division. 

In other situations superiors were found to be effective in 
counseling subordinates on personality shortcomings. Some 
executives believe that although it is relatively easy to develop 
a man's facility for a technical skill of an administrator, it is 
virtually impossible to influence materially a man's ability, 
for example, to get along with people. On the other hand, it 
appeared that many executives have been successful in help- 
ing subordinates to learn how to get along with others. In 
one case the treasurer of a company stated that a few years 
ago one of his division heads always wore six or seven keys, 
awarded during college years for outstanding intellectual 
ability. The ostentatious display of keys, together with the 
overbearing and objectionable attitude toward others which 
the division head manifested, resulted in recognition by the 
treasurer that unless the man's attitude changed he was at his 
top level of promotion. In this situation, too, the treasurer 
held a conference with the division head and offered sugges- 
tions for filing the keys in a desk drawer and, furthermore, 
made specific suggestions with regard to the man's conduct. 
Progress was slow in overcoming habits of years' standing. 
But the treasurer reported that progress had been made, and 
the man is now regarded as a potential treasurer of the 

The methods employed by superiors in coaching subordi- 
nates varied greatly. Sometimes, as noted above, a conference 
was held with the man; sometimes a casual conversation in 



the hall or at the lunch table accomplished the purpose. In 
one situation, counseling was achieved by example. A 
recently promoted subordinate stopped by his superior's desk 
about noon and suggested lunch together at a near-by restau- 
rant. The superior indicated that he did not want to lunch 
until after the commodity market exchange had closed for 
the day. The subordinate stated that he was hungry and 
would find out about the market when he returned. That 
day, because of changes in the market which occurred about 
noontime, it was necessary to get information to operating 
subsidiary corporations quickly. The subordinate responsible 
for this procedure was at lunch, but his superior handled the 
messages. The subordinate learned what had happened 
when he returned and thereafter always arranged to have 
lunch after the market had closed. 

In addition to counseling which takes place on a day-to-day 
basis, contribution can be made to a subordinate's growth 
through a periodic review of the subordinate's progress. The 
results of this study, and others in which attention was focused 
on incentives and employee motivation, indicate conclusively 
that subordinates want to know where they stand. Since the 
subordinate's security depends in large part upon what he 
thinks the superior or superiors think of him, it is important 
for superiors to be aware of these feelings of subordinates and 
to establish and maintain a relationship which encourages 

The value of periodic appraisals and discussions with subor- 
dinates lies in reviewing progress made during the previous 
period and deciding upon a plan of action for the subordinate's 
growth during the next period. The general practice among 
the companies studied in which appraisal forms were used 
was to require every superior to review the appraisal form 
with each of his subordinates. In some cases the appraisal 
form was shown to the appraised person, and in others the 
superior read the results to the subordinate. Unless the 
exposed parts of the appraisal form included sections in which 
the superior expressed his opinion as to whether the subordi- 
nate had reached his top level of achievement, the preferable 
practice would seem to be to show the form to the subordinate. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The value of review of progress depends upon frank and 
realistic discussion between the subordinate and superior. 
"If," as one executive stated, "the superior engages in a sort 
of hidden ball operation on his desk by half-hiding or not 
showing the appraisal form at all, the subordinate's reaction, 
in my experience, is likely to be one of suspicion and dis- 

Since appraisals were prepared annually in most companies 
studied, annual reviews of the appraisals constituted a con- 
venient and reasonable interval. A year is not too short a 
period to allow chance for growth to take place; nor is it so 
long a period as to give subordinates the feeling that they 
have been forgotten as workers in the organization. Once 
reviews of progress have been started on an annual basis, it is 
desirable to observe rigorously the annual scheduled dates 

The importance of letting subordinates know where they 
stand and what they may do for their own development can- 
not be satisfied solely by an annual review. Every day in the 
day-to-day contacts with subordinates, the superior manifests 
by his words, actions, and gestures what he thinks of his 
subordinates. Artificial observance of the mechanistic re- 
quirements of an annual review of appraisals with subordi- 
nates does not, of course, satisfy the requirements of subordi- 
nates for continuing security. The importance of maintain- 
ing a satisfactory every-day relationship between superior and 
subordinates will be discussed in detail later in this chapter. 
Mention is made of the point here to avoid any conclusions 
or impressions that the requirement of employee security is 
solved by an annual review of progress. 

In some companies where written appraisal forms were not 
prepared, the practice was followed of having each superior 
review progress with each of his subordinates at least once a 
year and in a few instances every six months. Usually this 
practice occurred in businesses of small or medium size in 
which executives at the top management level knew fairly 
well all the administrative and potential administrative 
workers in the organization. The absence of any standard or 
uniform appraisal form meant that typically each superior 



employed his own standards of requirements and his own 
standards of performance. 

In one company the president reported that ever since he 
had occupied an administrative position in the organization, 
he had followed a practice of writing out periodically a list 
of the strengths and weaknesses of each subordinate. He 
then called the subordinate into his office, reviewed his expres- 
sions of appraisal, and asked the subordinate to take the list 
home and discuss it with his wife. The president explained, 
"A man's wife knows pretty well whether an appraisal is fair, 
and she is a key person in helping the subordinate to do 
something about his weaknesses." The procedure provided 
that after the subordinate and his wife had talked over the 
appraisal and decided what they believed the subordinate 
could and was willing to do about stated weaknesses, the 
subordinate returned to his superior's office where they dis- 
cussed further the husband-and-wife conclusions. The 
superior and the subordinate then jointly worked out a pro- 
gram for strengthening the subordinate during the following 
months. Many men who formerly worked in departments 
directed by the present president and who now serve as key 
executives at the top management level of the company 
stated that they were indeed fortunate to have had the coun- 
seling and help provided by the president over the years. 
Again, it should be restated that the president's preparation 
of a list of weaknesses periodically was but a part of his 
coaching, his administration, of the departments for which he 
was responsible. 

The examples which were cited above to illustrate the value 
of counseling by the superior in the work situation have been 
greatly abbreviated. It would be misleading to conclude 
that counseling is reducible to such simple terms. The many 
supporting cases, however, were presented briefly to empha- 
size the importance of adding guided learning to the subordi- 
nate's opportunities to perform, as discussed earlier in this 
chapter. Each superior in his own working situation must 
work out his own methods of counseling, but the important 
factor is to counsel; of little value to executives are the particu- 
lar styles, techniques, or methods of other executives. In 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

some situations a conference might be misinterpreted as the 
first step to dismissal. 

It should be noted, too, that counseling on the job in these 
situations was initiated by the superiors. There are many 
obstacles to a superior's determining his subordinate's learning 
problems, and it is important, therefore, for the subordinate 
to feel free to consult his superior whenever the subordinate 
desires. The problems involved in establishing and main- 
taining a relationship of mutual consultation between superior 
and subordinate will be discussed in the next section. 

Counseling by superiors should not be regarded as a me- 
chanical method to be adopted as a trick of the trade. By 
itself, it must not be treated as a touchstone to success as an 
executive. Rather, counseling is an integral part of coaching, 
which is administration. 

Climate of Confidence 

As indicated earlier, consideration of the ways in which 
subordinates grow involves a study of the relationships be- 
tween the superior and his subordinates. And it is the nature 
and character of this relationship which largely determine 
whether or not subordinates will grow and develop. In those 
cases where there existed an effective relationship, subordi- 
nates and superiors alike found it difficult to define or describe 
the makeup of their relationships, but discussions with a 
considerable number of both parties led to conclusions which 
will be presented here. 

Many executives whose approach to administration in- 
cluded conscious awareness of the opportunities and responsi- 
bilities for the development of their subordinates stated that 
some sort of climate existed in their working relationships. 
It was neither a hot nor a cold climate, but one in which 
subordinates thrived and grew. Observation and study of 
the various climates made it clear that the strictness, gruffness, 
amiability, or disagreeableness of the superior had little to do 
with the existence or nonexistence of a climatic condition for 
growth. Situations were found in which superiors could be 
described by any of the aforementioned adjectives and many 

[ 130] 


others; yet there was a relationship between superior and 
subordinates which was desirable. 

The author's first clue to defining the nature of the climate 
came out of a conversation with a vice president of a large 
middle western manufacturing company. He described his 
relationship with his superior and with his subordinates, and 
summarized by stating, "If you as an administrator want 
results and growth from your subordinates, your administra- 
tive success will be in direct proportion to the subordinate's 
belief of your belief in him." Further, he emphasized that 
the important factor was not that the superior had confidence 
in his subordinates, but rather that the subordinates believed 
that the superior had confidence in them. 6 The necessity 
for the climate of belief or confidence, and further elaborations 
on its nature were supplied later by other operating executives 
in manufacturing companies. 

One executive stated that the climate must be such that the 
subordinate feels free to tell the superior what is on his mind. 
He illustrated the point by citing an incident which had 
happened that morning. A large part of the value of the 
product sold by this company consisted of soybeans, which 
were bought through established commodity exchanges in a 
few middle western cities. Mr. Land, the sales manager, 
alarmed at the falling prices quoted on the previous day's 
opening trading, offered and sold manufactured soybean 
products at a lower price. Later that morning the market 
for beans became firm and closed at a price well over the 
previous day's closing quotation. The sales made by Mr. 

6 This expression by a business executive was confirmed in different phraseology 
by Dr. Douglas McGregor, now president of Antioch College. "The outstanding 
characteristic of the relationship between the subordinate and his superiors is his 
dependence upon them for the satisfaction of his needs . . . Before subordinates can 
believe that it is possible to satisfy their wants in the work situation, they must 
require a convincing sense of security in their dependent relationship to their 
superiors .... Security for subordinates is possible only when they know they have 
the genuine approval of their superior. If the atmosphere is equivocal, or one of 
disapproval, they can have no assurance that their needs will be satisfied, regard- 
less of what they do. In the absence of a genuine attitude of approval subordinates 
are threatened, fearful, insecure. Even neutral and innocuous actions of the 
superior are regarded with suspicion." 

(Originally printed in The Journal of Consulting Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1944. 
Reprinted as The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Publications in Social 
Science, Series 2, No. 16). 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

Land at a lower price meant a loss of several hundred dollars 
in profit, which would have been realized if he had not 
responded so quickly to a temporarily falling commodity 

Mr. Land recognized his error and, instead of trying to 
cover up his mistake, stopped by the president's office, re- 
ported the facts, and asked, "How can I avoid making this 
kind of a mistake in the future?" The president used the 
occasion to review the activity on the soybean market in an 
effort to increase Land's understanding of commodity fluctua- 
tions and to re-establish the man's confidence in his ability 
to interpret the quoted price movements. In reporting this 
incident, the president said he doubted that Mr. Land would 
ever again trap himself on that kind of a deal. 

There were several significant points revealed by this and 
other incidents reported by the president of this company. 
In the organization there were no curtains or barriers between 
superiors and subordinates. Subordinates felt perfectly free 
to discuss problems with their superiors without fear or con- 
cern that the superior might think less of them because of their 
questions. Physically, doors were not open, but actually all 
superiors' doors were open for discussions with subordinates. 
Some executives called this condition "morale" or "esprit de 
corps," and others described it as the "tone" of the organiza- 
tion. The important result of the climate, however, was that 
subordinates were sure that the boss believed in them and that 
they could go to him and report what was on their minds. 

Another significant point noted in this situation was that 
superiors were physically available. The president stated 
that suggestions had been made to move his office to a "ma- 
hogany paneled and otherwise luxurious" suite on the top 
floor of the building. He rejected the proposals because "I 
must not be remote and inaccessible, but I must be readily 
available to the key men of the organization." 

An executive of another company supported the desirability 
of close physical office relationships with subordinates and 
added, "The superior must be not only physically available, 
but also intellectually and psychologically available." He 
stated that in his experience some of his earlier superiors 

[ 132 ] 


professed a policy of "come in any time you want to," but 
actually the curtness and brevity with which discussions were 
handled discouraged subordinates from approaching the 
superior's office except when absolutely necessary. 

It must be emphasized that the examples presented to 
illustrate what happened where a desirable climate of con- 
fidence existed cannot be interpreted to suggest mechanical 
means for its creation. The examples are presented to 
demonstrate the importance of the climate of confidence 
between superiors and subordinates and to suggest that a 
climate of confidence be an administrative objective of execu- 
tives. The creation of a satisfactory climate depends upon 
factors of much deeper significance than open doors or the 
amenities of sociable exchanges. 

A vice president in charge of sales in another middle 
western company stated that maintaining the subordinate's 
belief in the superior's confidence in him was difficult when 
the subordinate performed his functions away from the office 
of the superior. It was possible, because of day-to-day con- 
tacts, to manifest confidence in those in or near the vice presi- 
dent's headquarters; but to maintain a feeling of confidence 
in those division sales managers, for example, who worked in 
major cities on the eastern seaboard, it was necessary to use 
phone calls and letters. 

Recently, the New York division sales manager wrote that 
he had just missed a large order from a company regarded 
as a regular customer for his company's products. The 
division sales manager believed, as a consequence, that his 
budgeted quota for the period would not be met and that the 
company's price for the product was out of line competitively. 
The vice president stated that it was clear to him that the divi- 
sion sales manager's "chin was on his chest." On the day the 
report was received, the vice president wrote a three-page 
letter to the New York manager, listing the sales volume of his 
division and comparing it favorably with budgeted figures and 
the results of other divisions. Further, he explained in detail 
the reasons for the company's price policy, and stated that at 
this time it seemed desirable to stay out of the market. He ex- 
plained, also, that those in the headquarters office were not 

[ 133] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

concerned because a regular customer did not buy at their 
present price, and that he had complete confidence that, when 
the market conditions warranted a re-entry, the New York 
division would be able to meet and exceed its quota. 

The New York division sales manager reported later that 
his boss seemed to have a sixth sense as to when his spirit was 
low. He stated that the sales vice president had such con- 
fidence in his ability to run the New York office that he simply 
could not disappoint him. 

The president of an eastern company reported that too 
often superiors treated their key subordinates like poor rela- 
tives. They were as careless of their relations with subordi- 
nates as some people are with their own families. He added 
that it was his practice to let the subordinates who reported 
directly to him know that they were key people in the organi- 
zation. For instance, every month the president wrote a 
summary, five or six pages long, of the results of the period. 
At the top of this he listed the persons who were to receive the 
message. "Let them know you think they are important to 
the success of your organization." 

There were several situations in which subordinates were 
assigned to tasks or special projects which at the time of as- 
signment the subordinates did not believe they could ac- 
complish. In some instances when this happened the superior 
stated, "I am sure you can do the job," and then went on to 
cite personal examples from his own experience in which he 
performed jobs he thought initially he could not do. One 
executive frequently manifested his confidence in his subordi- 
nates by remarking that he was never prepared or ready for 
any job he was given while progressing up through the organ- 

The reaction of subordinates to expressions of confidence by 
superiors was uniformly, "The boss thinks I can do the job, 
and I just cannot let him down." One subordinate reported 
that his superior assumed that his subordinates could do 
anything or come up with satisfactory answers to any tough 
problems, and "The amazing thing is," added the subordi- 
nate, "that we do!" 



Another situation in which a superior created a climatic 
environment for growth was found in an operating division 
of a large eastern manufacturing company. In this case the 
division manager, Mr. North, in 1945 requested the transfer 
of Mr. Craig from the company's headquarters procurement 
department. Mr. North believed that Mr. Craig, 35 years 
old and recently returned from three years' service with the 
Navy, had potential ability as a division sales manager or 
general manager. It was planned to start Craig as a salesman 
and, if he developed there, to increase his management 
opportunities. Craig worked for several weeks, and Mr. 
North observed that while he did a "pretty good job," he 
seemed to waste a lot of time "passing the time of day talking 
with customers and other employees." Also, at five o'clock 
Mr. Craig walked out of the office, frequently joining his 
procurement department friends for a cocktail. 

Mr. North stopped by Craig's desk one day and reviewed 
his own personal history in the company. He indicated how 
little he knew in the beginning years about the technical 
aspects of the divisions' products and outlined what he did 
to gain this knowledge. The hard work outside regular office 
hours was stressed, and Mr. North concluded that the price 
of success in that kind of business was just plain hard work 
and that Craig could be successful if he really wanted to be. 
Mr. Craig stated that until this conference he never really 
knew the meaning of work or what had to be done to succeed 
as an executive in this division. He added that, encouraged 
and stimulated by Mr. North's story of his own experiences 
and by Mr. North's interest in Craig's future, he started night 
classes in mechanical engineering soon thereafter. He stated 
further, "For the past five years I have continued to try to 
fulfill the boss's confidence in me." 

This capsulated summary of a situation in which a subordi- 
nate developed in a friendly atmosphere could easily be mis- 
interpreted. It was outlined primarily to illustrate and to 
focus on the importance of a climate of confidence for growth. 
In this case Mr. Craig was a potentially able executive, but 
fulfilling this potential was made possible by the atmosphere 
which Mr. North established in the working environment. If 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

Mr. Craig had not been a potential executive, no amount of 
confidence on the part of Mr. North would have made him 

As to the degree of the climate of confidence, one executive 
stated that it must not be so high that the subordinate's feeling 
of security because of the superior's belief in him results in 
intimate behavior or careless business conduct. "For ex- 
ample," he added, "if I knew right now that the president 
thought I was as good a man as had ever filled this position, 
I doubt that I would work as hard as I do." Other executives 
suggested that one of the dangers of expressing confidence in 
subordinates was the human tendency to "fraternize." The 
president of one company stated that the superior must main- 
tain a dignity before his subordinates. Another reported 
that the superior must never put himself on equal terms with 
his subordinate or he will lose his respect. 

These suggestions as to the indispensability of "dignity" or 
"position" of the superior arise basically out of a misunder- 
standing as to the real basis of respect. Respect on any basis 
other than greater ability is not soundly established. If the 
superior does have abilities greater than those of his subordi- 
nates, the superior need have no fear of creating too high a 
climate of confidence. If the superior, on the other hand, 
does not have broader capacities, observance of synthetic and 
artificial status rules will provide brief refuge from recognition 
of this fact by subordinates. Ultimately the existence or 
nonexistence of greater ability will prove to be the basis for 

The creation of a climate of confidence does not mean, of 
course, that the superior must show by his words and actions 
that he believes all his subordinates are fully developed and 
perfect at any one time. The president of one company, 
whose record included the development of many major execu- 
tives, reported that the mature executive is one who accepts 
his subordinates as they are today and encourages them to 
grow and develop to their individual potentials. This attitude 
requires discriminatory judgment on the part of the superior 
who must gauge present abilities, progress, and termination 
of growth in his subordinates. 



A satisfactory level of confidence in subordinates is difficult 
to establish and maintain, but extraordinarily easy to destroy. 
A thoughtless word, comment, or gesture may raise doubts in 
the minds of subordinates as to whether the superior sincerely 
believes in their abilities. Several examples were found of 
actions by superiors which were interpreted by subordinates 
as threats to their belief of the superior's confidence in them. 
In one situation the president invited the 25 key administra- 
tors, their wives, and about 50 outside guests to an opening of 
a new factory. Refreshments were served, and the president 
circulated from group to group. He stopped to chat with 
one small group of two husbands and their wives where the 
topic of conversation was Cincinnati. The president quickly 
stated that he had lived in Cincinnati several years ago and 
asked one of the men where he had lived in that city. The 
man replied, whereupon the president asked, "Whom do you 
work for now?" The response was, "For you, sir." The 
president, the subordinate, and his wife, together with the 
other guests present were considerably embarrassed by the 
conversation, and the president quickly moved on to another 

Certainly this was a minor and insignificant incident, but 
it characterized the attitudes of the president and other 
executives in this organization. The executive who reported 
the incident stated that, although he could have remained 
with that company, he preferred to work in a climate where 
key people were believed important enough to be known. 
The incident together with other similar actions resulted in 
this executive's resignation shortly thereafter. 

A situation in which the superior was acutely aware of the 
importance of maintaining a climate of confidence existed in 
the Kane Company. Early in 1949 Mr. Larson, assistant 
sales manager, was asked to come to the president's office. 
There the president, Mr. Kay, introduced him to Mr. Kim- 
ball and suggested that Mr. Kimball talk to Mr. Larson in 
the adjoining sales display room. As the two men left the 
president's office, Mr. Kay stated, "Feel free to say anything 
you wish, Mr. Kimball. There are no holds barred around 
here." During the next hour Mr. Kimball outlined the sales 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

problems of his company and asked Mr. Larson if he would 
consider coming to his company as sales manager. Mr. Lar- 
son stated that he was happy in the Kane Company and did 
not want to change positions. When Mr. Larson returned to 
his office, he wondered whether Mr. Kay wanted him to 
accept Kimball's offer. Was this a subtle way of telling him 
he ought to find another job? What was the significance of 
Mr. Kay's remark, "Feel free to say anything you wish. 
There are no holds barred around here." That sounded as 
if Mr. Kay was giving the Kimball offer a personal indorse- 

Mr. Larson thought about many other implications during 
the rest of the morning. At noontime he had lunch with the 
sales manager and asked him what he knew about Kimball's 
offer. As the sales manager and Mr. Larson were discussing 
the episode, Mr. Kay stopped by their table and said, "You 
know, fellows, I get put into some pretty tough spots some- 
times. That is what happens when you have the best organ- 
ization in the industry. Kimball came in this morning and 
asked the names of the two men I regarded as having the 
greatest sales management ability in the organization. I 
suggested Larson and Smith. It sure does my heart good to 
have them turn down such an offer." Mr. Larson reported 
later that the president's comments at lunch reassured him, 
resolved his doubts, and sent him back to work with a feeling 
that he had the confidence of the president. 

The creation and maintenance of a climate of confidence 
between superior and subordinates cannot be achieved by 
the adoption of artificial or superficial mechanical approaches. 
Whether a satisfactory level is established and maintained 
depends wholly upon the attitude of the superior. If his 
personal attitude is "People are no damn good," as stated by 
one executive, the subordinates know no security and cannot 
therefore develop. On the other hand, if the superior sincerely 
believes in his subordinates and manifests this belief by what 
he says and does, a climate of confidence will result. If a 
superior really has confidence in his subordinates, his behavior 
on the job will show it. If the superior, however, does not 
have a basic belief in his people, artificial techniques will not 



disguise his true feelings. A president of a large company 
summarized the importance of believing in subordinates by 
stating, "A man who does not sincerely believe in the abilities 
of the people in his organization is not an executive because he 
denies the basis of administration, getting things done with 
those people." 

Standards of Performance 

Directly related to the coaching element, a climate of con- 
fidence, is the establishment of standards of performance. It 
would be easy to misinterpret the requirement of a satisfactory 
climate of confidence as meaning approval by the superior of 
whatever the subordinates do in order to assure his subordi- 
nates that the superior has confidence in them. A few in- 
stances were found in which superiors tried this approach, 
and in each situation it became readily apparent that the 
superior in a very real sense abdicated responsibility for 
leadership, and subordinates soon learned that the superior's 
approval had no real value. 

The approval of the superior, the feeling that the superior 
has confidence in the abilities of his subordinates, must have 
value for the subordinates. Perhaps this is the real meaning 
of the many statements by executives that subordinates must 
have respect for the boss. Studies of a number of situations 
indicated clearly that respect cannot be founded merely on 
relative position status. To be sure, position in an organiza- 
tion is prima facie recognition that the superior is in fact 
superior. But, unless the superior does have greater ability, 
subordinates will not accept his approval, the climate of 
confidence, as an element of value. 

It was found that the superior's establishment of and adher- 
ence to standards of performance on the job constituted the 
essential ingredient which gave value to the superior's ap- 
proval. Further, it was found that these standards of per- 
formance in all cases included work standards and, in some 
cases, personal conduct standards. 

Work standards must be established by the superior be- 
cause he is the administrator, the leader of his group. This 
function necessarily involves a requirement that the leader be 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

a competent executive. Competence in this sense means, not 
that the superior must be able to do every task asked of his 
subordinates, although this ability would be helpful in some 
cases, but that the superior know what standards of per- 
formance are appropriate and desired. For example, the 
president of a chemical company did not know how to perform 
many of the chemical processes which were involved in the 
production of the company's products. He did know, how- 
ever, what the rated or expected output of the various pro- 
ducing units was, and this information, together with related 
knowledge of other production matters, enabled him to judge 
the performance of the production department. 

The importance of knowledge of performance standards 
as part of the executive's job was illustrated by the experience 
of Mr. Miller, a vice president in charge of production in a 
large southern manufacturing company. Mr. Miller began 
work in the sales department in 1925 and in 1949 served as 
assistant sales manager. A reorganization of the headquarters 
office in early 1949, in order to centralize authority and 
responsibility along functional lines, resulted in the transfer 
of Mr. Miller from his sales position to a position as vice presi- 
dent in charge of production. He had no production experi- 
ence and was not familiar with any of the company's produc- 
tion processes or methods. In addition, his primary desire 
was to work in sales and not in production. 

Soon after he had assumed responsibility for the production 
function, an immediate subordinate recommended the closing 
of one smaller plant and the moving of its equipment to an- 
other plant where production of a line of company products 
could be centralized. "The proposal," stated the vice presi- 
dent later, "seemed to make sense, and I approved it. My 
bosses assumed I knew what I was talking about and gave 
their approval. It soon became apparent that we had made 
a mistake. I had no real basis for appraising the validity of 
my subordinate's recommendation. There were a thousand 
and one things I should have thought about before approving 
the move. I just did not know all the things which have to 
be taken into account in making such a decision." 

The significant point to note in this situation is not that 

[ Ho] 


the vice president made a mistake principally because he had 
had no previous experience in production, but rather that 
he did not have standards of performance for the leadership 
of the production department, a deficiency which became 
known to the subordinates in the department; accordingly 
they had no respect for their department head and attributed 
no value to his manifestations of approval of them. Their 
general conclusion was reported to be one of "the boss doesn't 
know what's involved in our department." 

Many executives suggested that in the development and 
growth of subordinates the old rule applied, "If you want to 
train a dog, you have to know more than the dog." 1 To the 
extent that "knowing more than the dog" meant that the 
superior should be a competent executive in his position, the 
validity of the statement was confirmed by the situations 
studied. In those instances where the subordinates believed 
that their superiors were not competent executives, and ac- 
cordingly attached no value to expressions of their approval, 
the subordinates typically did not grow and progress. 

In the Arneson Company, for example, the head of market 
research in the sales department was given the position be- 
cause he had failed as a salesman on the road. Three subordi- 
nates were responsible to the director of market research; 
each reported separately that their superior knew nothing 
about the function, and that for the last two years they had 
learned absolutely nothing as the result of working for him. 

An interrelated aspect of the superior's standards of per- 
formance, suggested by several executives, was the conduct 
of the superior on the job. One administrator stated that the 
boss must work harder than anyone else in the organization 
because he was the example by which subordinates measured 
their own performance. Another reported that, if the superior 
was careless about his business dress and manners, subordi- 
nates would adopt the same habits. Still another stated that 
if the superior came in late in the morning, took two hours for 
lunch, and frequently played golf or went to the ball game 

1 Howard W. Bordner, "Suggestions to the Commission on Organization of the 
Executive Branch of the Government," The Accounting Review, October, 1948, 
p. 370. "Good managers cannot be developed in any organization that has never 
known good managers." 

[ hi ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

during summer afternoons, these examples constituted the 
personal standards for subordinates to follow. 

The importance of any one or all of these various practices 
by executives cannot be determined apart from the circum- 
stances of each situation. Perhaps the main general conclu- 
sion that can be stated is that if the superior is a competent 
executive, the practices listed can be regarded as peripheral 
and relatively insignificant factors. If the executive is not 
competent, however, the practices may be only symptomatic 
of basic weaknesses of the executive. 

There is another aspect of standards of performance which 
many executives reported. The real meanings of their state- 
ments were difficult to appraise because expressions of per- 
sonal philosophies and business practices were made in terms 
of generalizations. For example, one executive stated that 
the subordinate must have respect for the superior as a person. 
If the superior engages in personal conduct which violates 
the code of conduct of the subordinates, they will not have 
respect for the superior. This lack of respect will prevent 
acceptance of the superior as a coach. 

The basic generalization to be derived from the evidence 
on this element of coaching is that, for a superior to be an 
effective coach in providing for the growth and development 
of people in his business organization, he must be competent 
in his position. 

Creating a Team 

Discussions with executives from many companies indi- 
cated that another general element of coaching was "creating 
a team." This expression was commonly accepted by most 
administrators as descriptive of an essential part of the superi- 
or-subordinate coaching relationship. It was observed, 
however, that although most administrators acknowledged 
the desirability of regarding their organizations as teams, in 
practice many of these administrators gave only lip service to 
the phrase and conducted their operations in violation of 
several of the conditions which make a group effort a team 

In one medium-size company, for example, the president 



referred to his organization repeatedly as a "great team" and 
added, "There are no stars in our company, just a group of 
people who get along together beautifully. We are one big 
happy family." Further investigation disclosed that in this 
company the president dominated the organization, refused 
to delegate responsibility to subordinates, and had everyone 
in the organization, as one vice president stated, "scared to 
death ever to disagree with the boss." The conclusion was 
inescapable that the leader of this organization was feared by 
his subordinates and cordially disliked by them as well. 
There were no evidences of a team effort or of a team spirit. 
Rather, the distinguishing characteristic of this organization 
was the tremendous capacity of one man while the other 
members of the group served as clerks. The subservient at- 
titudes of subordinates were misinterpreted by the president 
to mean a happy team spirit. The president in this case was 
extraordinarily able as an individual, but he was not an 
administrator. Quite apart from the deadening effect the 
work of the president had on the development of subordinates 
in this organization, this company included no one to succeed 
the president if he should die unexpectedly or prematurely. 

The importance of creating a team is closely related to a 
consideration of employee motivation. Executives stated 
over and over again that from their experiences, as subordi- 
nates and as superiors, a sense of belonging to a group and a 
sense of being known constituted important desires and im- 
portant incentives to employees. This study was not con- 
cerned with the reason why these feelings were significant to 
subordinates. It was observed that such was the case and 
that superiors frequently failed to recognize these facts in 
establishing and maintaining their relationships with subordi- 

Many executives stated further that as organizations grow, 
even though work groups maintain about the same size, some- 
thing happens which causes people in the groups to regard 
themselves as numbered cogs in large machines. Some execu- 
tives describe the phenomenon as a "loss of the personal 
touch when organizations become big"; others state that 
growth involves new management problems which necessarily 

[ 143] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

reduce the time available for personal relationships. What- 
ever the cause and whatever the changing magnitude result- 
ing from growth, administrators and subordinates alike were 
unanimous in stating that "belonging to a group and being 
known" were important to them. Superiors who neglect to 
take account of these facts of human behavior bar themselves 
from accomplishing an effective administrative job. 

Many organizations were found and studied in detail in 
which a team spirit existed. The superiors in these instances 
contributed greatly to the achievement of the team efforts; 
and discussions with these superior-coaches provided the 
basis for this presentation of some of the factors involved in 
motivating subordinates through the creation of a team. 

Knowing the People 

Responsible administrators stated again and again that 
the first step in creating a team was to know the people in the 
group. One said that just as the football coach must know 
the capabilities of his players, both for developing their 
capacities and for utilizing their abilities in games, so must 
the administrator know the strengths and weaknesses of the 
people in his organization. For the achievement of organiza- 
tion objectives the administrator must know what particular 
subordinates can and cannot do. 

Most executives stated that they knew their subordinates, 
but further investigation disclosed that there were wide differ- 
ences of opinion as to the meaning of the word "know." To 
some the word meant knowing the men on a first-name basis; 
to others it meant knowing the men's wives and children. 
A considerable number, however, attached fuller meanings 
to the word "know." To them it meant conscious efforts to 
learn individual abilities and capabilities, the capacities for 
development, and the things which motivated the men in the 

What this knowledge means to subordinates was illustrated 
by a situation found in a medium-size eastern manufacturing 
company. Here the sales manager had five division heads 
reporting to him, and each of the five reported that the boss 
knew more about them as individuals than they did them- 

[ 144] 


selves. One division head stated that the sales manager was 
keenly interested in discovering "what makes people tick, 
what causes them to do what they do when they do it." He 
added that the manager was always interested in what the 
subordinates were doing, both on the job and away from the 
office. "Golly," he added, "how can you help wanting to do a 
great job when your boss seems to be more interested in your 
success than in his own?" 

Attention by the sales manager in this case to the people in 
the organization as individuals resulted in a team spirit and 
willingness to work and grow. Certainly, there were many 
other factors involved in this situation which contributed to 
its success, but the example has been used here to illustrate 
the importance to the subordinates of having a superior who 
was interested in them. 

The sales manager recognized that nonfinancial compensa- 
tions no less than financial compensation were important 
incentives to the subordinates. Many other situations were 
found in which the significance of nonfinancial rewards was 
not accepted by officers in responsible positions. Their main 
tool for providing incentives to employees was the pay en- 
velope. To stress the importance of using something more 
than dollars to create incentive to people, one executive 
stated, "It is impossible to solve a qualitative problem with a 
quantitative solution — dollars. Convincing your people that 
you are really interested in them and their careers is a qualita- 
tive answer and it is in this area that so many managements 

Knowing and understanding subordinates are necessary 
steps for discovering deficiencies in administrative abilities 
and for discovering whether the individuals are developable. 
Some executives in their enthusiasm for executive develop- 
ment programs or for better human relations in business 
assume that all people have capacity for growth and develop- 
ment. Obviously this is not the case. Many reach their 
peaks of performance at relatively low levels in the organiza- 
tion, and their futures will consist largely of refining their 
capacities to work at those levels. The superior therefore 
must know his subordinates and exercise discriminatory 

[ H5] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

judgment in separating the developable from the nonde- 

Knowing and understanding subordinates mean more than 
a periodical decision, "Now I must spend some time getting 
to know my people." Such a mechanical and artificial 
approach is quickly discovered and recognized by subordi- 
nates for what it is. Knowing subordinates must be the result 
of a sincere, personal interest in them; without this, approaches 
by the superior are likely to be regarded by employees as 
meaningless lip service. 

Subordinates* Participation 

"Participation" was found to be another word which 
many executives intellectually accepted as a desirable concept 
for making a group into a team, but which in practice they 
neglected. In one eastern company, for example, the presi- 
dent stated that he always called in his vice presidents when 
important matters were to be decided. He stated that the 
management group was an integrated team working together 
much as a management committee. It was observed, how- 
ever, that although the president believed sincerely that the 
vice presidents participated by discussing and deciding im- 
portant issues, in fact the president, by his habits of adminis- 
tration, followed the ritual of group discussions but dominated 
and made the decisions himself. The vice presidents reported 
that they always waited to find out where the boss stood on 
any problems because they knew from experience that he 
would make the ultimate decision. 

When the management group met to discuss the selection 
of a new factory manager for the plant in a near-by city, the 
president started the conference by saying, "It seems to me 
that Jones should succeed Whiteside. What do you think?" 
And on another matter the president introduced the problem 
by stating, "Don't you fellows think we ought to defer the 
October sales promotion until November?" On other prob- 
lems the president avoided leading questions but indicated 
by his tone of voice or inflection what he had already decided 
to do. From observed situations in this company and discus- 
sions with the vice presidents, it was clear that participation 

[i 4 6] 


by subordinates was not achieved in fact. It was noteworthy, 
too, that the vice presidents followed the same practice in 
dealing with their respective subordinates. Superficially, 
the concept of participation would seem to be an integral 
part of administration in this organization, but actually it 
was not. Subordinates at each of the levels reported that the 
superior made the decisions, even though subordinates' advice 
and counsel ostensibly were considered. 

Many examples were found in which executives did ask 
subordinates' real participation. In one company the presi- 
dent stated that the company was just too big for any one 
man to have enough background, knowledge, and judgment 
to provide answers for all the problems which arose. He 
added that group management was his approach and that, 
although he was responsible to the board of directors for 
results, the vice presidents were the ones who made most of 
the decisions. Another president stated that he regarded as 
common sense the practice of letting the vice president 
charged with carrying out the decision participate in deciding 
what the decision should be. 

In a middle western company the sales manager became 
concerned about the current schedule of prices. He called 
his subordinates together, and as a group they decided to issue 
a new schedule providing reductions on certain items. It was 
observed here that the individual members of the group felt 
perfectly free to express their judgments, and on several items 
they disagreed with the sales manager. In each case, how- 
ever, full discussion was permitted, and the group as a group 
arrived at a decision. One of the subordinates reported later 
that he personally felt a real responsibility for the new price 
schedule because, even though that was not part of his job, 
he had had a hand in deciding what the schedule would be. 

There was another type of participation which made 
subordinates feel they were part of the team effort. This 
involved apprising subordinates of what was going on in other 
sections of their own department and in other departments 
of the company. The benefits of this type of participation 
were twofold: in the first place, the subordinate believed he 
was important enough to know what took place outside his 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

own relatively limited sphere of work; and, in the second 
place, the subordinates gained substantive knowledge about 
other phases of the company's operations. 

In a middle western company, for example, a product sales 
manager held frequent meetings, daily during some periods, 
of his five subordinates in order to tell them about decisions 
which upper level management was making or considering. 
Sometimes the information had an influence on action to be 
taken by the product sales manager's group, and sometimes 
the information affected other product lines. In all cases, 
however, the subordinates in this product group felt they 
were in on what was going on in the company. 

In another company quite different results, arising out of 
the same proposed action, were realized in two subsidiaries. 
The parent company management had a reorganization under 
consideration which would directly affect the authority and 
responsibility of the managements of the subsidiaries. Sub- 
sidiary managers learned of the possibility of a reorganization 
at a semiannual meeting of managers at the headquarters 
office. The matter was discussed, and the individual man- 
agers were asked to make whatever suggestions they desired. 
At the end of the conference there was general agreement 
that authority should be centralized largely at the head- 
quarters' offices and that much of what had been done at the 
subsidiaries would be transferred to the home offices. The 
president closed the meeting with a comment that the changes 
would be made very slowly over the next 1 8 to 24 months. 

The manager of the Acton subsidiary returned to his office, 
called a meeting of his key people, and told them of the plans 
for reorganization. He stated that since most of these people 
would be affected by the change, they should learn directly 
from him what the facts of the situation were. The manage- 
ment group of the Acton subsidiary worked out the details of 
transferring operations and personnel immediately, even 
though the actual transfer was many months in the future. 

The manager of the Little subsidiary, upon his return, did 
not disclose to his personnel any information about the reor- 
ganization plans. In a very short time, however, rumors 
circulated through the Little subsidiary, which ranged from 



information that the plant was to be sold to another company 
to statements that the plant would be closed indefinitely. 
The false information disrupted the entire organization, and 
the manager found it necessary to issue a clarifying statement 
of the facts. When he called his management group together 
to work on the details of the move, he was confronted with 
resentful subordinates who questioned and doubted any 
suggestions which he made. The resulting lack of coopera- 
tion, particularly by the key subordinates, irritated the man- 
ager, and he became arbitrary and dictatorial. The organ- 
ization morale and spirit deteriorated further, and as a result 
the manager was transferred to another operation of the 

The contrasting results between these two subsidiaries was 
striking. In the Acton subsidiary the manager realized the 
value of motivating employees by providing them information 
and giving them a part to play in accomplishing the move. 
This specific action by the manager plus his record, his repu- 
tation, and an acceptance by the employees of their impor- 
tance made possible a smooth transfer to the home office. 
In the Little subsidiary it was not merely the failure to disclose 
the reorganization change that destroyed the organization 
morale; it was this omission plus a history of administrative 
actions by the manager which did not treat employees as 
worth taking into account. 

The controller of a large middle western company stated 
that, as a company becomes larger, it becomes easier to forget 
the importance of apprising employees of what goes on. 
"Perhaps," he added, "we assume that in our specialized 
operations the job is done by someone else. I have to remind 
myself all the time that it is my job to let my people know 
what is taking place." 

The sales manager of the Travis Company recognized the 
importance of motivating his subordinates through participa- 
tion, and frequently asked subordinates to represent him at 
meetings and to work out problems with other departments 
which he might have done himself. One of his subordinates 
reported, for instance, that several months before a fall-season 
promotion, the sales manager became concerned about the 

[ H9] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

scheduling difficulties of the many new designs added to the 
line. The sales manager suggested to a subordinate that he 
study the problem and work out a schedule with the produc- 
tion department which would assure available stocks when 
needed. The subordinate stated that he knew very little 
about the intricacies of production scheduling in the begin- 
ning, but over the next two months he spent most of his time 
working with production personnel. He added that the pro- 
motion plan went off smoothly and profitably, and that he 
was stimulated to work hard to do a good job on a problem 
in a new area because it was a job which the manager himself 
usually would have handled. "The boss let me do it; I 
represented him and the sales department in my relations 
with production personnel." 

When subordinates are not asked to participate, they 
begin to feel, as one executive put it, like orphans. In one 
company transportation costs constituted significant annual 
expenditures and had a controlling influence on the location 
of new plants. Despite this fact the director of traffic was 
never asked to participate in policy discussions or to prepare 
other than special studies on localities under consideration as 
new locations. "I know," he said, "that we cannot do so 
good a job on traffic problems when we do not know what is 
going on in the president's office. If we knew more about the 
company's plans or had some way of finding out, the company 
could have avoided some of what have turned out to be bum 
locations, and the company could have saved substantial 
freight charges." 

Fair Treatment 

Another factor in motivating subordinates for the 
creation of a team effort is fairness. It was found that in 
those situations in which the subordinates believed the superior 
to be fair, the subordinates were stimulated to work, grow, 
and develop. In those situations where the subordinates 
believed the superior was not fair, subordinates were dis- 
contented, frustrated, and generally disinterested in their 
jobs. Their attitude was expressed as, "Why should I work 
to do a better job? The boss will take the credit or give it to 
someone else." 



It is important to note that "fairness" as an essential ele- 
ment of the superior-subordinate relationship is fairness from 
the point of view of the subordinates. The subordinates 
must believe that the superior is fair. This requirement is 
emphasized because several superiors acknowledged the 
significance of fairness and believed that they were fair. 
According to their own standards the superiors were fair, but 
from the subordinates' point of view they were not fair. 

Fairness was found to include many aspects of business 
operations. It included promotion, credit or approbation 
for work done, opportunities to do work, opportunities to 
progress, judgments in appraisal, and many other incidents 
involved in the day-to-day conduct of the business. 

The impact of unfair treatment of subordinates was ob- 
served most clearly in family corporations of small and me- 
dium size where family members were favored for opportuni- 
ties and promotion. The situations and the difficulties of 
motivating competent nonfamily administrators when this 
condition exists are so familiar that detailed descriptions are 
unnecessary. From accepting the obvious shortcomings of 
nepotism in family companies, it was a short step to noting 
the importance of fairness in companies where favorites other 
than family members were involved. 

In the Justice Chemical Company, for instance, product 
Research and development were important factors for the 
company's success. The research department was headed 
by a vice president who reported directly to the president. 
In the research department were three main divisions, one 
of which was the organic chemicals division. Early in 1 949, 
when the director of this division resigned to accept a teaching 
appointment in the chemistry department of a large eastern 
university, the vice president in charge of research had the 
problem of naming a new director. Since the work in the 
division consisted essentially of laboratory experimentation, 
all its 15 employees were highly trained chemists. Of the 
15 men, 10 had the Doctor's degree and the other 5 had the 
Master's degree. Several of the 10 subordinates with Ph.D. 
degrees were distinguished scientists in some area of organic 
chemistry, and the group in the division assumed that one 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

of these men would be selected to direct the technical work 
of the group. The vice president of research, however, 
selected one of the five men with the Master's degree, Mr. 
Booth, who was 25 years old and who had had only three 
years' service in the division. The older and distinguished 
scientists resented the selection and voiced their objections 
vigorously to the vice president of research and the president. 
They pointed out that the work of the division was technical 
in nature, and "Mr. Booth had neither the training nor the 
experience to understand what was going on." Mr. Booth 
remained as director until six months later when two research 
chemists resigned to take positions with other companies, and 
it was apparent that the division scientists were correct in 
their appraisal of Booth. He was relieved and one of the 
older scientists was designated as director. 

The subordinates in the organic chemical division reported 
later that they were convinced real merit had little to do with 
promotion after Booth was named director. If results as a 
scientist were the basis of advancement, and this was the 
stated policy of the research division, then Booth's selection 
was unfair and "Why should we work hard?" 

In another organization the vice president in charge of 
production had four division heads reporting to him, one of 
whom became known in the organization as a crown prince. 
The other three division heads were convinced that whenever 
a "plush special" assignment came along, the crown prince 
would get it. For example, last winter he represented the 
company at three conventions in the South. And whenever a 
tough assignment comes along, "one of us has to carry it 
through." In this situation, as in others involving employee 
morale and employee motivation, there were no measures of 
the effect of the antagonism arising from the favoritism shown 
to the crown prince. It was not possible to calculate what 
differences in performance would have been achieved if the 
vice president had not created the firm conviction of favor- 
itism in the minds of the other three division heads. It was 
observed, however, that the three who believed they were 
treated differently held resentments, and perhaps the most 
that can be said is that these feelings must have affected their 
performance on the job in one way or another. 



One executive stated that it was impossible to have a perfect 
record with regard to fair treatment of all subordinates, but 
that, since he had learned the importance of fairness as a 
motivating factor of subordinates, he had been a little more 
thoughtful about his actions and had considered how the 
actions might be regarded by his subordinates. 

It was found that the members of management of the 
companies studied were generally aware of fairness in the 
motivation of employees. For instance, in most of the organ- 
izations a policy of promotion from within prevailed. Subor- 
dinates in these companies reported that they liked the policy 
because it meant that whenever opportunities for promotion 
became available one of their group would get the chance 
rather than some outsider. In a few companies, however, 
even though the employees' handbooks included statements 
of a policy of promotion from within and though the company 
newspapers and magazines confirmed the policy, subordinates 
in the organizations were firmly convinced that these repre- 
sentations were shallow window dressings. In one company 
this was acknowledged by one executive to be the case. A 
review of several recent replacements indicated that outsiders 
were brought in for the positions, and the executive stated 
that, inasmuch as little had been done in the past to pro- 
vide a continuous flow of competent personnel, it would be 
necessary to go outside the organization for some time to 

In another case, however, where subordinates believed 
that the management disregarded personnel already in the 
organization when filling job vacancies, it was found that of 
the promotions made during the last year, less than i% 
involved people who were brought in from the outside. The 
resentment of subordinates was defined as arising out of a 
failure by the management to make known to the organiza- 
tion who was promoted and when. The subordinates were 
not aware of any but a small fraction of the promotions made. 
The president of the company stressed the importance of 
letting the whole organization know that opportunities for 
advancement did exist and that the policy of promotion from 
within was followed. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

It should be noted that although a promotion from within 
does constitute an important incentive to subordinates, there 
may be occasions when circumstances require going outside 
for position replacements. Strict adherence to promotion 
from within may result in the assignment of unqualified 
personnel to key positions. This result is useful neither to the 
man involved, the position, nor the company. In one situa- 
tion, for example, an able advertising manager was promoted 
to the position of sales manager. The president believed 
that of the candidates in the company the advertising man- 
ager was the best qualified. The president had "grave doubts 
but pious hopes" that the man could do the job because he 
prided his record of never going outside the company in 
filling a key spot. The new sales manager started his work, 
but he soon found that he was "over his head." The manage- 
ment problems of a large salesforce were unfamiliar areas, 
and he became more and more unhappy as his inability to do 
the job became apparent. The president tried to help the 
sales manager, hoping that he would "catch on." Months 
went by and the president recognized that some action was 
required. He was reluctant to reassign the sales manager 
to his old job because he was afraid this action would empha- 
size the man's failure and destroy his career. Finally, a 
member of the executive committee of the board of directors 
talked to the sales manager and learned that he was "miserable 
and would be delighted to return to his old advertising post, 
an area the man really knew." Shortly thereafter the reas- 
signment was made, and a man was brought in from the out- 
side to succeed as sales manager. 

This episode has been simplified greatly, of course, but the 
essential facts indicate that rigid adherence to a policy of 
promoting from within, while desirable generally, should not 
preclude exceptions when the circumstances require excep- 
tions. When an exception is considered necessary, members 
of management must be assured that a careful survey has 
been made of all possible candidates within the present organ- 
ization. An appraisal inventory of personnel is a useful tool 
for providing this assurance. 

[ 154] 


Another area of fairness was found. Here, although the 
action did not affect the subordinates directly, the indirect 
effects on their operations resulted in jeopardy to their incen- 
tive. In a large eastern candy manufacturing company, for 
instance, the president informed the vice president in charge 
of company-owned retail stores that the board of directors, 
largely at the insistence of the chairman of the board, had 
voted to close 35 of the company's 93 stores. The vice presi- 
dent was asked to select the 35 stores to be closed and to start 
action immediately to accomplish the reduction. He studied 
the operating records of the individual stores and found that 
32, currently and for some time in the past, had been un- 
profitable. All the others were profitable, and while he had 
no misgivings about closing 32 unprofitable stores, he doubted 
the wisdom of stopping the operation of 3 money-making 
units. He listed the 32 stores to be closed, estimated the time 
required to accomplish the change, and then arranged a 
conference with the chairman of the board. When the vice 
president suggested to the chairman of the board that the 
resolution of the board be amended to provide for closing 
32 rather than 35 stores, the board chairman stated em- 
phatically, "I said to close 35 stores, and you had better close 
35 stores." 

The vice president reported that the board chairman's 
decision was regarded as arbitrary and unfair by the key 
personnel in the retail stores division. He added that during 
the next several months several store managers of profitable 
stores resigned, "They thought they'd better get out before 
their stores were closed," and the problems of restoring 
enthusiasm to the division were difficult. He added that he 
was quite sure the people in his division would have been 
satisfied if only the 32 unprofitable stores had been closed, but 
that when it was insisted that the operations of three profitable 
units be terminated, this decision was accepted as unfair and 
a real threat to their future with the company. 

Several executives stated that they doubted whether it was 
possible to do anything effective for the development of men 
for management because the morale of those who were not 
selected to participate was jeopardized. Other executives 

[ J 55] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

from companies in which development programs were in 
effect countered these expressed doubts by reporting that if 
the program was administered fairly, almost all the people in 
the organization would accept the elements of the program. 
They added that if the administration of the development plan 
played favorites or served the purposes of a relatively small 
clique in the company, any approach, no matter how cleverly 
devised, would be doomed from the start. 

Another kind of doubt was expressed by a vice president of 
a large eastern company. He said, "Everybody is talking 
about human relations in industry today, and the president 
tells me to be nice to people. I am not supposed to raise my 
voice or give my subordinates hell. Just what kind of admin- 
istration are we getting into?" Discussions with this vice 
president's subordinates disclosed that they thought the boss 
was a "wonderful superior." "Sure, he gets mad once in 
awhile, but when he gives me hell, I know blame well I have 
it coming. He sets high standards, and he expects us to live 
up to them. When we don't, he gives any one or all of us a 
bad time. He doesn't play favorites, either, and is as fair as 
they come." 

The doubts expressed by this vice president were not un- 
common, and they arise, it is believed, out of a misconception 
of the real meaning of administration. Much of what has 
been said and written in recent years about executives and 
administration sounds namby-pamby and wishy-washy. Op- 
erating executives find it difficult to accept these expressions 
of softness as a part of their approach to administration when 
decisions have to be made and quotas met. The significance 
of fairness is one of the main elements of administrative suc- 
cess, and executives need not accept namby-pamby methods 
or practices if in their operations they are fair. One executive 
summarized this concept when he said, "If a man sets high 
standards of performance and treats his subordinates fairly, 
he will be a good boss." 



Getting Coaches to Coach 

Providing for the growth and development of people through 
the coaching efforts of superiors does not require the adoption 
by superiors of new mechanical management techniques. 
Rather, since the coaching process is essentially the adminis- 
tration process, getting coaches to coach represents an effort 
to encourage superiors to do a better job in the work that they 
are already doing. It was noted earlier that people learn in 
the work situation, and the purpose of emphasizing coaching 
by superiors is to stress the importance of making the most of 
the learning process on the job. Whether this result is ac- 
complished or not depends largely upon the superiors. 

The willingness of superiors to devote conscious effort to 
the problems of developing subordinates depends mostly on 
their attitude. If the department head operates, as some do, 
on the premise, "This is a cold, cruel world; it is every man 
for himself and let the devil take the hindmost," there will be 
relatively little provision for the development of subordinates. 
It was found that this approach to administration was not 
typical in the organizations studied; sufficient examples were 
observed and studied, however, to indicate that in situations 
where superiors were concerned primarily with their own 
position and status, subordinates had virtually no opportuni- 
ties to grow and develop. 

Many other executives stated that their attitude toward 
subordinates could be characterized best by the Golden Rule, 
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." 
They stated that as a criterion for the measurement of admin- 
istrative actions the Golden Rule constituted a useful reminder 
and a guide. It was observed that in companies in which 
this rule was acknowledged as the simple administrative 
standard and where the standard was complied with, subordi- 
nates in the organizations were encouraged to grow. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

The job, then, of getting coaches to coach is essentially 
that of affecting the attitudes of superiors throughout the 
organization so that, as one executive said, "We create a body 
of real coaches, a group of men who are, so to speak, 'the 
keepers of the secrets of the tribe prepared when time knocks 
to pass on from failing hands the torch of knowledge to other 
hands trained and tested'." 

An individual's attitude is usually quite well formed by the 
time he leaves school and starts work. It is established and 
formulated by inherited factors, physical environment, and 
the persons with whom he has associated; after he goes to 
work, his attitude is affected further by others in the organiza- 
tion, by management practices, by the results of experiences 
on the job, and by many other influences. 1 Changing and 
improving attitudes for more effective work as an adminis- 
trator is not likely to be a quick or an easy process. Each 
person's habits and attitude are the results of years of exposure 
to affecting forces. If an individual's attitude does not in- 
clude "Doing unto others as you would have them do unto 
you," a considerable period of time will be required to reshape 
the man's basic feeling toward people. 

In some companies the fundamental concept of the respon- 
sibility of superiors for the development of subordinates is 
well established and accepted by the members of management. 
The president of one company, for instance, stated that the 
existence of a sense of responsibility for subordinates was a 
tradition in the organization; "Now we just assume that the 
job will be done." 

In other companies in which recent efforts have been made 
to provide for the growth of personnel through coaching, 
members of management stated that the first step in estab- 
lishing the approach was to advise all superiors of their 
responsibility, indicating that success in developing subordi- 
nates constituted an important element in the periodic 
appraisals of the superiors. One executive reported that he 
gave superiors in the organization the desire to develop others 

1 Early in this study attention was called in a quotation by Dr. Robert N. 
McMurry to the significance of attitude and many of its implications. The basic 
validity of attitude was confirmed by many executives interviewed later during 
the course of this project. 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

by telling them in the first instance that they themselves 
would move ahead only by developing others. 

According to the president of another company, every man 
in the organization was aware that he would not be promoted 
until there was an adequate successor to fill his existing 
position. Without qualification this approach can be danger- 
ous. If, in an attempt to prepare a successor, an executive 
concentrates his coaching attention on one man, others in the 
group are likely to regard the heir apparent to the boss's job 
as a crown prince. It was found that when members of a 
group who aspire to grow discover that the coaching attention 
of their superior is centered largely on one man, their incentive 
to grow and develop is seriously jeopardized. Their feelings 
are described by the statement of one group member in such 
a situation, "Why should I knock myself out? We all know 
who will be the next department head; guess I should have 
gone to Yale." Explanations as to why others in the group 
were neglected varied considerably, but the incident clearly 
brought out the principle that opportunities to grow and 
compete for progression on a fair basis were important incen- 
tives. When these were affected by the selection of a crown 
prince successor, morale and interest sagged. Executive 
coaches must realize that the coaching responsibility includes 
all members of the group and must not be centered in one 
man alone. 

The continuing value of the promotion type of incentive to 
superiors depends, of course, upon the extent to which the 
stated policy is followed. If the president of a company 
announces such a policy and then promotes men who, to the 
knowledge of their contemporaries, have not developed per- 
sonnel, the real policy rather than the stated policy will be 
the effective guide for members of the organization. If there 
are no rewards as promised by the president, but rather 
rewards which seem to depend upon factors other than the 
development of subordinates, members of management will 
quickly discern the basis for progression and adjust their 
actions accordingly. This point is stressed because in several 
companies considerable variance was observed between stated 
and real policies on this matter. Unless the policy of including 

[ 159] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

subordinate development as an important element of ap- 
praisal and as a basis for progression up through the organiza- 
tion has real meaning in practice, the experience of many 
companies is conclusive evidence that the superiors will learn 
the real basis for progress and try to meet these standards 

The possibility of promotion as an incentive to superiors 
to coach obviously is not possible in all situations. Men 
attain their peaks of performance at varying levels in the 
organization, and providing incentives to coach for men who 
have reached the end of their promotion road represents a 
separate problem. In several companies it was found that 
top management, as an integral part of company personnel 
development policies, provided financial incentives for those 
who were at the peak of their promotion possibilities. The 
president of one company, for instance, cited the case of a 
controller in one of the subsidiaries. The controller was 
55 years old and although he performed satisfactorily at the 
division level, he was not considered qualified to go further 
in the organization. Over the years the controller had done 
an effective job of coaching subordinates, and the president 
encouraged a continuation of this coaching effort through 
personal discussions and timely substantial increases in salary. 

Perhaps the key person for assuring that a policy of develop- 
ing subordinates has real meaning is the company's president 
or chief operating executive. What he says, but, more sig- 
nificantly, what he does to indicate the importance and value 
of developing people through coaching, provides the guiding 
example directly for his own subordinates and indirectly for 
the whole organization. Unless the chief operating executive 
manifests personal acceptance of the concept, it is unlikely 
that others in the organization will do other than follow his 

The importance of the president's policy and actions was 
demonstrated in many situations. In one situation, for 
instance, the president of a large manufacturing company in 
the East announced a development program consisting essen- 
tially of the coaching responsibility of superiors. He stated 
several times to his vice presidents that their subordinates 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

should "be encouraged to learn by doing," that "people 
learn by making mistakes," and that the vice presidents 
should "make every effort to provide opportunities for 
subordinates to do things." Shortly after these pronounce- 
ments, a vice president gave one of his subordinates a project 
which involved the preparation of a special report to go to the 
president. The subordinate worked on the problem for about 
ten days, and when the report was completed, submitted it to 
his superior, the vice president. The latter read and approved 
the report and forwarded it to the president. When the 
president studied it, he found a mistake and called in the vice 
president, and his first statement was, "How in hell did this 
happen?" The vice president explained, and the president's 
second statement was, "Don't ever let this kind of mistake 
happen again!" 

It was clear to the vice president, as the result of this and 
other similar instances, that the president did not really mean 
that subordinates should be given chances to make mistakes. 
The president's impatience when mistakes were made indi- 
cated much more effectively than the words of the stated 
policy that, as one vice president said, "If you want to get 
along with the old man, you do everything yourself. If you 
don't, you are sure to get burned." 

Other examples were found in which the president by his 
actions violated the apparent meaning of his words, with the 
result that coaching for the development of subordinates never 
became fully effective. In one company the president repeat- 
edly stressed the importance of delegating responsibility down 
into the organization. He used every opportunity to state 
the importance of developing people by giving them chances 
to learn by doing. Interviews with his immediate subordi- 
nates, however, indicated that the president rarely delegated 
responsibility to them and that he stayed on in the company 
(in 1 949 he was 78 years old) because he did not want to give 
up his authority. The vice president in charge of finance 
stated that even though the company was undergoing a major 
financial reorganization currently, "My job consists of digging 
up data for the president to act on; he keeps telling me I am 
responsible, but he never lets me do anything!" 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

In shaping the attitude of superiors with regard to their 
responsibility for the development of subordinates, company 
management must also observe the need for continuing and 
consistent compliance. In some situations a program for the 
growth of personnel through coaching is inaugurated with a 
burst of enthusiasm and acceptance by all concerned. But as 
the problems and difficulties of dealing with individual situa- 
tions become apparent, superiors relapse into their earlier 
and customary habits of concern for their own positions only. 

The managements of several companies met the anticipated 
lag in interest of superiors in coaching subordinates by re- 
quiring a semiannual or an annual review of what had been 
specifically done for the growth of personnel and what the 
plan was for the next period. The activities of one company, 
for example, were divided among nine operating subsidiaries. 
The headquarters offices consisted of a very small group of 
staff specialists who had no direct supervising authority over 
subsidiaries. As advisers they could suggest changes, but 
each subsidiary manager was responsible for the success of his 
operation. The company's president, the vice president in 
charge of personnel, and the vice president in charge of sales 
constituted an Executive Development Committee. Once a 
year after the annual appraisal forms had been prepared and 
reviewed, the manager of each subsidiary was required to 
come to the headquarters office, appear before this committee, 
and report on what he had done for the growth of personnel. 
When this procedure was first introduced, the subsidiary 
managers tried to describe their development programs in 
general terms. The committee made it clear very quickly 
that a general approach was not adequate and that they were 
interested in discussing each administrator as a person. 
Thereafter, subsidiary managers came prepared with a 
specific record of what had been done and what was proposed 
for each person with administrative responsibility in the sub- 
sidiary company. 

In another company in which operations were largely 
decentralized to operating divisions, the president advised 
the manager of the division in Milwaukee that the president 
and the vice president for personnel would spend two days in 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

Milwaukee for the purpose of reviewing the growth results of 
coaching during the last year. Soon after the headquarters 
officers arrived at the division, it became apparent that the 
division manager had not maintained a consistent emphasis 
on coaching and that during the last year little could be 
reported with regard to personnel growth progress. When 
the president realized this situation, he picked up his papers 
and privately reminded the manager that the company policy 
was to encourage the growth and development of personnel 
and that he would return in six months to determine what 
progress had been made in this area. When he returned 
later, the division manager had complete reports ready on 
what had been done, together with a blueprint of plans for 
the next year. 

These two and other similar cases illustrate the importance 
of the continuing interest and participation by the chief 
operating executive. Intellectual acceptance of the concepts 
of coaching is relatively easy to establish in a business organ- 
ization, but maintaining and manifesting this acceptance in 
practice are more difficult. Here again the president is the 
key figure, and if he personally checks to ascertain the extent 
of compliance, his interest can establish the pattern of per- 
formance for the entire organization. 

In many cases, however, even though the president sets an 
example, his subordinates may not be able to apply the same 
approach to their subordinates. Many vice presidents were 
found, for example, who were so predominantly concerned 
with their own status, position, and promotion possibilities 
that little or no attention was paid to the development of 
subordinates, despite the example set by the president. 
Other vice presidents, as the result of years of experience in 
doing everything themselves, had the habit of self-sufficiency 
so well established as a method of operating that they found 
it difficult to change or modify their methods of administra- 
tion. Still other executives, who combined extraordinary 
personal abilities and capacities, were able to carry broad 
responsibilities without the help of subordinates except on 
clerical functions. The sales manager of one large company, 
for example, literally did everything himself, and his subordi- 

[i6 3 ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

nates were, as the president stated, "largely messenger boys." 
To help administrators learn how to coach, how to utilize 
the capacities and abilities of subordinates, some companies 
have organized conference programs. It was recognized 
that trying to affect and change basic habits of administrative 
conduct was difficult in that such habits had been created 
over a long period of time and were manifested unconsciously 
and not as the result of logical reasoning. Accordingly, the 
aim of the conference was to provide opportunities for dis- 
cussion of administrative problems, so that individual execu- 
tives might become aware of and gain insight into the factors 
involved in getting things done through people. 

Members of management used several approaches to 
achieve these objectives. In one company a few problems of 
administration which had arisen within the organization 
were written up, with disguised names, and used for discussion 
purposes. The conference leader in this case was the director 
for executive development, who reported directly to the presi- 
dent. Another company employed a consultant to meet with 
conference members weekly and discuss administrative prob- 
lems suggested by the consultant. In another organization a 
professor of business administration led conference discussions 
of case problems included in The Administrator. 2 

Experience with the conference discussion of case problems 
on administration, taken either from incidents which occurred 
within the organization or from the book by Professors Glover 
and Hower, indicated that the problem presented inevitably 
led to a discussion of administrative problems arising out of 
the experiences of the conference participants. It was found 
that typically conference members were reminded of admin- 
istrative problems they had faced personally. They would 
then proceed to summarize the facts, and ask other partici- 
pants, "How would you handle that situation?" With the 
discussion centered on a problem with which the conferees 
were more or less familiar, members of the group were en- 
couraged to think realistically and practically about the 
situation. Members of management who have employed 

2 John D. Glover and Ralph M. Hower, The Administrator (Chicago, Richard D. 
Irwin Company, 1949). 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

the conference method of case problems stated that it was 
probably desirable to start the discussion with a case situation 
from another company in order to establish the rapport and 
to enlist full participation by members of the conference 
group. After these preliminary steps had been accomplished, 
conference participants would enter the discussion spiritedly 
and relate personal experience problems similar to the initial 
one submitted by the conference leader. 

One of the cases from The Administrator which was used 
effectively in several companies was the Varo Company. It 
is presented here to suggest the type of case problem which 
can be used and to illustrate the provocative questions which 
assist participants in considering some of the many implica- 
tions present in this and other situations. 


About four years after Tom Hardy had been made produc- 
tion control manager at the Varo Machine Company, the 
superintendent of the company resigned. Mr. Miller, vice 
president in charge of manufacturing, discussed with the 
company's president the problem of filling the position, and 
they decided to transfer Hardy from production control man- 
ager to superintendent. 

The seven foremen in charge of the manufacturing depart- 
ments reported to the superintendent. It was his job to super- 
vise these foremen in operations, and one of the major require- 
ments of the job was personnel administration. The superin- 
tendent reported to Miller. 

As production control manager, Hardy had also reported to 
Miller. Although this job had required merely the setting up 
of over-all production schedules, Hardy had broadened his 
outlook in his four years in that position. He had studied plant 
operations and had gained a good understanding of technical 
production problems, although he had never had actual pro- 
duction experience. Before becoming production control 
manager, he had been the company's purchasing agent. 

Hardy was liked by all the foremen and also by the 400-odd 

3 All names have been disguised. Case material of the Harvard Graduate 
School of Business Administration is prepared as a basis for class discussion. It is 
not designed to present either a correct or incorrect illustration of the handling of 
administrative problems. 

[ 165 ] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

employees in the shop. Both foremen and workmen had come 
to Hardy with personnel problems that ordinarily would have 
been taken up with the superintendent. It was natural, there- 
fore, that Hardy was transferred to the superintendent's posi- 
tion when it became vacant. Miller, however, who was 50 
years old and 10 years Hardy's senior, had some doubts about 
the move. Miller had been a machinist in his early days with 
the company and had worked up through the ranks to his 
position of vice president in charge of production. He did not 
think that Hardy had an adequate technical background for 
the position of superintendent. 

After Hardy had been superintendent for several months, 
friction developed between Hardy and Miller. Miller com- 
plained to the president that Hardy was opinionated, gave snap 
judgments, and knew little about technical processes. 

About a year after Hardy became superintendent, this fric- 
tion had become more pronounced and was aggravated by 
pressure of work caused by several important contracts taken 
on by the company. Miller complained to the president that 
Hardy did not have the technical background necessary to 
meet the technical problems arising in connection with the 
new work. The president thought Hardy was a valuable man 
as a personnel administrator, however, and would not agree to 
dismissing him. Finally the president called in a firm of man- 
agement consultants to make an organization study which 
would include the evaluation of key men; in this way he sought 
to receive advice from the management consultants as to what 
action should be taken on the Hardy matter. 

The management consultant assigned to the problem spent 
about two weeks talking informally with each executive and 
key man on down to the rank of subforeman. He discussed 
with each man what his job was: what he depended on other 
departments or key men for; what difficulties he experienced 
in executing his job; what types of problems he met; and how 
he solved them. 

During the course of the management consultant's associa- 
tion with Hardy and Miller, each discussed his personal rela- 
tionships fully on a businesslike basis, knowing that the manage- 
ment consultant would not use the information in such a way 
as to cause him embarrassment. 

The management consultant concluded that Hardy's judg- 
ment was excellent and that he had a keen sense of human 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

understanding in dealing with personal problems of his subordi- 
nates. His subordinates liked him, and although he did not 
know all the technical aspects of operations in their departments, 
they said he was helpful to them in solving technical problems 
by suggesting possible ways of doing things. Many of these 
suggestions, they said, were no good but by talking the technical 
problems over with him they got new ideas. Hardy did not 
try to force his unworkable ideas on them. They said he was 
exacting, however, in finding out why an idea was not good 
and that often in trying to explain why it was impracticable 
they found that their first reaction was wrong and that the 
method suggested would work although they had never tried it 
before. The foremen said that between Hardy and the methods 
engineer, whose job it was to design tools and specify methods, 
they felt they had all the technical assistance they needed. 

The management consultant found that Miller was an "aver- 
age" manufacturing head who did a fair job of coordinating the 
efforts of men reporting to him, although he frequently gave 
instructions to subordinates regarding rather minor administra- 
tive phases of their departments. Those reporting to him were 
the superintendent, the production control manager, the 
methods engineer, the industrial engineer, the maintenance 
foreman, the chief inspector, and the purchasing agent. 

The management consultant was present at many informal 
conferences between Hardy and Miller as they went about 
their work. He observed that Hardy could analyze a problem 
in a fraction of the time that it took Miller, and that usually 
his judgment was better than Miller's even on problems that 
Miller had thought over prior to presenting them to Hardy. 
Often Miller would call Hardy to his office and ask him if he 
did not think they had better make a certain move. Hardy's 
penetrating mind enabled him to analyze the proposal in a 
flash and to inform Miller immediately why such a move should 
not be made. 

(Copyright, 1 947, by the President and Fellows of Harvard 


i. What qualities, do you suppose, did Mr. Miller possess 
which helped him rise up through the ranks from machinist 
to vice president in charge of production? Which positions 
is it likely he held in the course of his career with the 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

2. What qualities — attitude, behavior, etc. — did Mr. 
Miller probably see in Hardy which led him at least to ap- 
prove of, if not to endorse strongly: 

a) the appointment of Hardy to be purchasing agent? 

b) the transfer of Hardy from purchasing agent to produc- 
tion control manager? 

c) the transfer of Hardy from production control manager 
to superintendent? 

3. What do you make of the foremen's reactions to and 
appraisals of Hardy after he had been their superintendent 
for some months? What do you make of Hardy's way of 
working with the foremen, after he became superintendent? 

4. Why, from time to time when Mr. Miller would ask Hardy 
if he did not think they should make a certain move, did 
Hardy inform Miller immediately why such a move should 
not be made? 

5. What, do you suppose, was Hardy's appraisal of Miller? 
How, do you suppose, did Hardy come to reach this ap- 
praisal? What do you think of this appraisal? What kind 
of an appraisal of Miller by Hardy is useful or necessary 
as a basis of a cooperative relationship between the two? 

6. How do you interpret Miller's complaint against Hardy 
and what do you think of it? 

7. What, if anything, would you do in this situation if you were 
the president of the Varo Machine Company, and if all the 
facts and opinions in the case as written were known to you? 
What, would you expect, would be the reactions of various 
individuals and groups to your action or inaction: Miller's? 
Hardy's? the foremen's? the chief engineer's? the purchasing 
agent's? What would be the long-run impact of your action 
or inaction on the attitude of these people? 

8. How well would you guess that Hardy used the services of 
the staff departments under Miller's jurisdiction? 

In those companies where conferences on case problems 
were used, management members who sponsored the program 
reported several useful generalizations basic to a reshaping 
of participants' attitudes in administration. 

1 . The conference leader plays an important role, not in 
"directing" the nature of the discussion, but rather in 
encouraging full freedom of participation by the con- 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

ference members. The leader must pose challenging 
questions, but he should never attempt to provide an 
answer. His function is to help the members of the 
group to learn, but he should not be a "teacher who 
tells or lectures." The real contribution of this type of 
conference discussion consists of providing the environ- 
ment within which each member learns for himself. 
The leader, also, must stay out of the discussion except 
as the occasion necessitates keeping the meeting from 
degenerating into a "bull" session. 

2. A conference program should start with the top mem- 
bers of management. In one company members of the 
board of directors and the president were the partici- 
pants in the first abbreviated series of conferences. 
Thereafter, the vice presidents attended one series and 
department heads another series of conferences. The 
importance of the presence of the president and chief 
operating executives has been indicated earlier, and it 
was found that in creating acceptance of the conference 
idea, the president by his knowledge, participation in 
the program, and enthusiastic sponsorship, set the tone 
of acceptance by the rest of the organization. 

3. Members of the group should be from the same organ- 
izational level. Superiors and subordinates should not 
be in the same conference group. Executives from 
several companies reported that when the conference 
group included superiors and subordinates, full discus- 
sion did not result. Subordinates were either silent or 
extremely cautious of comments made in the presence 
of superiors. The learning value of case conferences 
to strengthen the administrative abilities of people 
depends on full discussion and participation by the 

4. The conferences should be arranged as to both time 
and place, so that members will not be interrupted by 
the demands of operations. Once the case discussion 
starts, telephone calls and personal calls from subordi- 
nates should not be permitted. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

5. When information relative to the conference program 
is made available to members of management, care 
must be exercised to avoid reference to "training" or 
"school." It was found that administrators generally 
resent a return to the classroom or a subjection to 
training. Perhaps part of the explanation lies in 
unfortunate connotations of these words to some people. 
In one company the meetings are designated as "Man- 
agement Conferences" and in another they are known 
as "Conferences on Administration." In these two 
situations no instances of resistance were reported or 

6. The case conference idea should not be a one-shot at- 
tempt to modify the attitudes of administrators. In 
one company it was found that a series of 12 weekly 
meetings for a group of 20 department heads twice a 
year provided suitable intervals for personal practice 
on the job and a strengthening of objectives when mem- 
bers returned to the conference group discussions later. 
The experience to date with conferences as a means of 
helping coaches to coach has not indicated any trust- 
worthy standard as to the length of the series or the 

It will be noted that what has been described as a conference 
program is a special type of conference. This distinction is 
stressed because it was found that many companies studied 
during the course of the investigation held so-called training 
conferences of various kinds and with various objectives. 
Although some of these conference programs may have con- 
tributed a little to the business knowledge of the participants, 
few were organized to achieve a contribution to the adminis- 
trative attitudes and coaching capacities of the members. 

A series of case problem conferences organized to provide 
for the development of administrative capacities does not 
attempt to achieve verbal and intellectual acceptance of 
"principles of management" or "rules for the administrator." 
Unfortunately, it is believed, a considerable number of com- 
pany programs are dedicated to teaching rules for the admin- 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

istrator to observe. These rules, once learned, can be repeated 
according to the lesson, but there is real doubt as to the extent 
to which application of the rules becomes part of the partici- 
pant's way of operating his department or division. In one 
company, for instance, at the end of each group meeting the 
conference leader distributed to all participants a wallet-size 
card which listed the rules or principles discussed during the 
period. It was intended that the card should constitute a 
useful reminder to administrators, but it was doubtful that 
the lessons stated would ever be effective unless the individual 
participants accepted and incorporated the "principles" as 
part of their unconscious habits of action. 

It will be noted, too, that the case conference does not 
include a lecture or a summary by the group leader. This 
distinction from the typical training conference is purposeful. 
Executives from several companies reported that lectures and 
summaries have not been effective in developing administra- 
tive capacities, even when given by an "inspired lecturer." 

Briefly stated, the case conference is intended as a method 
of helping administrators to learn how to coach. Coaching, 
or administration, depends largely on the attitude of the 
administrator, and it was found that an effective way of 
reshaping attitude was through participation in a case con- 
ference program. The results of such programs, because they 
are concerned with attitude, are not measurable. Participants 
do not come away from the meetings with any discernible 
changes or with any objective evidences of growth. The 
changes, however, do occur; they are deep seated and pro- 
found from an administrative point of view. Most men who 
have participated in such a program have gained real insight 
into the administrative process and while they probably could 
not describe the specific benefits exactly, their performance on 
the job later as executives has demonstrated the administrative 
value of case discussions. 

Other Coaching Problems 

A misleading conception of the ease of coaching may be 
gained from the presentation of the necessarily greatly simpli- 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

fied evidence found in the companies studied. Although it is 
believed that the coaching efforts of superiors constitute the 
primary and basic method for the growth and development 
of subordinates, there are, nevertheless, a number of problems 
of coaching which will be discussed briefly here. 

It was found that notwithstanding the coaching example 
of the chief operating executives, as well as participation 
in management conferences on administration and the 
knowledge that development of subordinates was an important 
appraisal criterion, some superiors still did not do anything 
effective in coaching their immediate subordinates. In some 
cases the superiors who were reluctant or unable to develop 
subordinates were older men who occupied their positions 
largely as the result of seniority. They had worked for the 
company for 35 to 40 years and had gradually moved into 
middle-management positions. Having spent a business 
lifetime in achieving the position, they believed that everyone 
else should spend an equal length of time in arriving at the 
same level. Instead of helping younger people to grow and 
progress, they actively resisted efforts of subordinates to learn 
by doing. These situations were not uncommon. 

In other cases superiors refused to help subordinates 
through coaching efforts because they were afraid the subordi- 
nates would become their bosses. This situation was found 
to be particularly true in companies that were not expanding 
and therefore not growing in management opportunities. 
In expanding companies superiors seemed to be more eager 
to develop subordinates because of an awareness of the other 
and greater opportunities within the organization for the 
utilization of the superiors' abilities. 

Sometimes superiors were not interested in supervision. A 
considerable number of executives in responsible positions 
made the assumption, "Everyone wants to get ahead, to be 
promoted to positions involving supervision of others." It 
was soon found, however, that this was not the case; all people 
do not want to get ahead in the organization, and all people 
are not interested in promotions to positions of responsibility 
requiring the supervision of others. If coercion and pressure 
are used to force a man into taking an administrative position, 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

it is more than likely that the unhappy administrator, disliking 
the responsibility for subordinates, will do nothing to promote 
their growth. 

Many situations were found in which people were promoted 
to administrative positions they did not want and others in 
which people refused to accept administrative positions, pre- 
ferring to remain where they were. Recognition of these types 
of situations is stressed here because a considerable number of 
executives assumed erroneously that everyone wants admin- 
istrative responsibilities. In a manufacturing company in 
New York, for instance, the controller asked three subordi- 
nates to accept positions in other functional departments of the 
company as part of a planned experience progression and as 
a step to higher positions in the controller's department. 
Only one of the three men was willing to make the move; the 
other two stated that they were "perfectly happy to do what 
they were doing for the rest of their lives." 

In another company the plant manager believed that the 
man who handled all procurement possessed administrative 
qualifications for greater responsibility. When promotion to 
a position which involved supervision of twelve others was 
offered, the procurement specialist declined. He stated that 
he did not want to be bothered by the problems of people and 
preferred to remain in his present job. 

Sometimes employees who know they do not want to be- 
come responsible for the administration of others are "per- 
suaded" to accept the responsibility against their desires. It 
was found that the unhappily promoted superior rarely 
becomes an effective coach of subordinates. 

Another reason why some superiors were not effective in 
developing subordinates was that the subordinates had 
reached the peak of their attainments and were not develop- 
able further. Many executives stated that it was important 
to recognize that people reached their maximum degree of 
productiveness at various levels, and as one man said, "It is 
no more possible to develop some people than it is to change 
lead into silver." The exercise of caution, however, is re- 
quired in an appraisal of the extent to which this reason is 
valid in any situation, because it was found that the reason 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

was suggested frequently by superiors as an excuse for not 
developing subordinates. 

When it is determined that an effective coaching job is not 
being accomplished in a particular situation, investigation 
of the circumstances is required before action is taken. This 
would appear to be an obvious step, but it was observed that 
some executives took action, in a few cases discharging the 
noneffective coach, without first finding out why the develop- 
ment efforts had not been successful. The reason for the lack 
of development may be the lack of developable capacities in 
the subordinates, rather than in the superior's shortcomings as 
a coach. 

When it is found that key men in middle or top manage- 
ment positions do not in fact, and for any of a number of 
reasons, develop their subordinates, some action is required. 
In some companies where this was the case, top management 
and the board of directors were lulled into a false impression 
of organization ability when able men occupied the key 
positions. They neglected the impact which an unforeseen 
death or resignation might have on the organizational 
strength of the company. 

In one company it was the policy to discharge any admin- 
istrator who, though doing a very satisfactory job in other 
respects, did not develop the people who worked for him. 
This rather drastic policy disregarded the contributions such 
as a man might make to the company when he was utilized 
in a position which did not require supervision of others. 

The opposite extreme was found in a midwestern manufac- 
turing company where the president reported that when he 
discovered that a key man did not coach subordinates, he 
relieved that man, but made every effort to find a suitable 
position for him in the organization in order to use his abilities 
and experience. One man, for example, in the headquarters 
sales department was given three new positions over a period 
of two years in an attempt to find his niche in the organization. 
Today he is, as the president stated, "doing a grand job as a 
one-man team in market research." 

In several companies executives said they believed that it 
was impossible to reassign a man within the organization 


Getting Coaches to Coach 

when he had failed as an administrator in a key position. 
While no generalization to the contrary is possible, case evi- 
dence studied during the survey indicates that instead of 
discharging a man or leaving him in a position after his incapac- 
ities have been conclusively determined, consideration should 
be given to every alternative that exists for the continued 
employment of the man in a position for which he is qualified. 
This point is stressed here because of the views expressed by 
some executives and the policies followed in a few companies. 
Such views and policies were based on the questioned premise 
that men cannot be reassigned within the organization when 
they have failed as administrators. It is suggested that con- 
sideration be given to alternative assignments before men are 
discharged or before deterioration in performance is permitted. 



Administration of Development Programs 

The adoption by company managements of all or part of the 
main elements of an executive development program dis- 
cussed in previous chapters depends, of course, upon the need 
for such a program in each company's situation. In some 
organizations key personnel may be young and may be per- 
forming creditable jobs; the urgency, therefore, for immediate 
full-scale action is less acute. This does not mean that nothing 
can or should be done, but only that because there is no im- 
mediate need for replacements the adoption of a quick and 
complete development program is not urgent. In other 
organizations, where death and unexpected separations have 
created the need for immediate replacements, the company's 
program may be started through concentrated attention on 
the development of potential successors. Later, after the 
current emergency has been met, efforts can be directed 
toward expanding the development program to include job 
specifications and process forms for personal appraisals. In 
other companies the nature of the organization, such as a 
relatively small number in the executive group or intimate 
relationships already established as the way of doing business, 
may make unnecessary the adoption of formal job specifica- 
tions and appraisal forms. 

In still other companies parts of a development program 
may now be in effect, and may be proving useful. It is 
doubtful whether these should be scrapped without study to 
see if they conform with the desirable elements of a new and 
more complete program. In the Essex Company, for example, 
the general manager of one of its six subsidiaries organized and 
directed an effective coaching program for the development 
of subordinates. When the headquarters officers adopted an 
integrated program, the subsidiary which had pioneered its 
own methods of development was exempted from the com- 


Administration of Development Programs 

pany-wide program. In this connection it should be noted 
that in many companies effective practices and methods for 
the growth and development of people are directed by depart- 
ment, division, and subsidiary managers. Before any steps 
are taken to establish company programs, it is suggested that 
investigation and evaluation be made of practices already 
existing in the organization. The top members of several 
managements were unaware of some of the excellent develop- 
ment approaches employed in lower echelons. 

Although an integrated program includes job specifications, 
periodic personnel appraisals, and affirmative methods for 
development, relatively few companies were found in which 
all three elements were present. Certainly, it is possible to 
start at any point, and it is probably more important to start 
somewhere than it is to delay action until a thorough and 
complete program is ready for adoption. In this regard, the 
managements of several companies initiated their approach 
through trial efforts in one section of the organization, both 
to test their methods and to define errors and shortcomings 
before company- wide adoption. 

Even though operations and the growth of personnel cannot 
be separated, as indicated in Chapter V, many tasks inherent 
in the administration of any approach to a development 
program remain to be done by nonoperating personnel. In 
some companies these functions have been delegated to the 
top personnel officers of the organization or to a small section 
of the personnel department. In other companies a new and 
separate section has been created, responsible directly to the 
chief operating executive and designated as Executive Devel- 
opment Coordination, Director of Development Programs, 
or some similar name. 

Whether the responsibility is assigned to the personnel 
department or to a section reporting directly to the president, 
the following list suggests some of the aspects of executive 
development programs which should be performed by person- 
nel of the nonoperating staff. 

i. They should serve as a central clearing house for the 
determination of personnel requirements. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

2. They participate in recruitment and selection of new 
employees. It should be noted that "participation" is 
stressed. In several companies operating executives 
expressed considerable dissatisfaction with the college 
graduates recruited by representatives of personnel 
departments. In one company a vice president in 
charge of sales who was unhappy about the caliber of 
young men brought to the headquarters offices for 
final interview, investigated the recruitment methods. 
He found that u a scared youngster with no experience 
other than personnel work represented the company 
at the colleges where prospective employees were inter- 
viewed." Further, "top men in college graduating 
classes were so unimpressed with the man who personi- 
fied our company that they took jobs with other com- 
panies, sometimes our competitors. They got the 
cream, and we got the skim milk." 

Practices and effectiveness of recruitment methods 
will vary among companies, but generally it can be 
concluded that operating executives have a responsi- 
bility in the recruitment and selection of new employees. 
It is not enough to interview men who are "sent in" 
by personnel department employees. There must be 
assurance that competent, potential executive person- 
nel are attracted in the first instance. The procedures 
discussed in Chapter II on specifications for the employ- 
ment of new personnel were found useful as standards. 

3. They supervise and assist in the preparation of job 
specifications. Here again, the help and cooperation 
of operating executives will be required; the task 
consists of getting the job done — of studying the 
experiences and getting the judgments of operating 
executives and then summarizing the data in useful 

4. They supervise formulation, preparation, and sum- 
marization of appraisal forms. 

5. They assist in the preparation of status and replacement 


Administration of Development Programs 

6. They maintain files on all executive and potential 
executive personnel. The use of files was mentioned 
earlier, and their value is stressed here again to under- 
line the importance of a central source of personal 
growth histories. Too often the experiences, oppor- 
tunities, and growth rates of people are overlooked, and 
misleading evidence based on the most recent impres- 
sions serves as the basis for promotions, increased com- 
pensation, or other matters affecting the organization's 
executives. Well-maintained files with previous and 
current objective evidence on the men can serve a very 
useful purpose. 

7. They assist in arrangements for conference programs. 

8. They assist in preparation of job progression plans. 

9. They assist in arranging the special development plans 
which will arise for the growth of potential executives 
with special problems. Here again, it should be 
emphasized that growth and development must be 
regarded as involving the growth and development of 
individuals. People as individuals are unique, and in 
a very real sense there must be as many development 
practices as there are people in the organization. This 
is an overstatement, to be sure, but the not uncommon 
efforts of some managements to regard development 
as a mass proposition prompts our reminding ourselves 
that people are different. 

The job specifications for the function of supervising the 
details of an executive development program will vary among 
companies, as will the job descriptions. In one company 
the functions of the coordinator for executive development 
were described as follows: 

1. Responsible directly to the President for promoting, 
directing, and counseling all organizational levels in 
Company on matters of executive development. 

2 . Secretary of Company's Executive Development Committee 
consisting of the President, Executive Vice President, Vice 
President in charge of Manufacturing, Vice President in 
charge of Marketing, General Manager of Manufacturing, 
and General Manager of Marketing. 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

3. Assists in the development of present and ideal organization 

4. Assists in the preparation of Replacement Tables. 

5. Assists in the preparation of Development Schedules. 

6. Prepares analyses of composite appraisals for review with 
appropriate executives. 

7. Maintains files related to Executive Development Program. 

8. Performs research and development work in connection 
with improving present techniques and procedures for the 
development of executives and potential executives. 

Note: Since most of the above-outlined functions relate to 
executives in the organization, the work is of a highly con- 
fidential nature. 

What has been said about the functions of the group in the 
organization charged with performing the non-operating 
aspects of executive development indicates by implication 
that the job is essentially that of a staff rather than a line 
nature. Effective handling of relationships with line or 
operating executives in this area of executive development is 
both delicate and difficult. Several personnel department 
employees and executive development coordinators were 
found who believed they had to have authority over operating 
executives to do the job of developing people. Any mani- 
festation, however, direct or indirect, that operations must be 
subjugated to staff recommendations on executive develop- 
ment is likely to be resented and resisted by operating execu- 
tives. Their resistance may not be apparent immediately, 
but case after case was found where little was accomplished 
in the development of subordinates when those charged with 
the task of administering the program indicated, "You will 
prepare these appraisal forms, or you will do this or that." 

For instance, in one company which operated largely 
through decentralized subsidiaries, the headquarters vice 
president in charge of sales stated that inasmuch as each 
subsidiary manager was charged with a profit and loss respon- 
sibility, these managers uniformly did not want what was 
described as "interference from those college boys in per- 
sonnel." One of the subsidiary managers reported that every 


Administration of Development Programs 

time the personnel department came down "with their so- 
called training programs, they indicated quite clearly that the 
program would be adopted. I am responsible for the profit 
or loss of this subsidiary, and those so and so's are not going to 
tell me how to run my affairs." 

Many other illustrative examples were found, and many 
will occur to the reader. Implementation of an executive 
development program depends in large part on the skill 
exercised by the executive development director in fulfilling 
his responsibilities as a staff officer. 1 

A main conclusion of this study is that executives and 
potential executives learn by doing and that the best approach 
for the growth and development of people in an organization 
consists of planned job progression and the coaching efforts of 
superiors. This conclusion does not mean, however, that a 
company's executive development coordinator, director, or 
officer charged with supervising a program cannot or should 
not consider other supplementary methods. During the 
course of this study several additional approaches were studied 
and two of these will be discussed briefly in the next section. 

Advanced Management Programs 

While the principal locus for the growth and development 
of administrators is in the job relationship between superior 
and subordinate, other supplementary approaches were 
found to be in use and useful. Perhaps the most significant 
of these was the Advanced Management Program initiated at 
the Harvard Business School and now offered by a number of 
other educational institutions. 

The managements of many companies have found that 
their organizations consist largely of groups of highly skilled 
specialists. 2 For instance, men who started with a company 

l A useful discussion of some of the problems of staff relationships will be found in 
The Journal of Social Issues, Volume IV, No. 3, Summer 1948. "The Consultant 
Role and Organizational Leadership: Improving Human Relations in Industry." 

2 "One of the tragedies of conventional industry is that it grooves men and 
women, that it limits their horizons immediately and keeps them limited indefi- 
nitely. Only a few ever emerge from the strait jacket of industry to become 
leaders in the real sense of the word. These men are largely products of a bizarre 
combination of luck, unusual individual capacity, and availability Where 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

in the production department twenty years ago have moved 
upward and now occupy positions of responsibility in the 
production department. Their experience has not included 
work in other functions, and it was a rare man, indeed, who 
was able to look at his job in terms other than production. 
Many managements believe that it would not be feasible or 
practicable to transfer key production personnel to equivalent 
positions in another function, to sales, for example. Without 
a background of sales work the risks of assigning a production 
department head to a position as head of a sales department 
were believed to be too great. Perhaps rotation to other 
functions could have been accomplished when the man who 
now directs the production department was at a much earlier 
stage in his business career, but (i) that possibility does not 
solve the present problem of specialization in the various 
functions, and (2) there is real question whether the kinds of 
interfunctional experience gained at the lower levels in the 
organization are the kinds of interfunctional experiences 
which will be useful at upper level functional positions. One 
of the objectives of advanced management programs is to give 
business-trained specialists an awareness of the operations 
and problems of other functions. 

Administrators on the job typically are extraordinarily 
busy men. One of their common complaints was, "There is 
so much to do each day under pressure that there just plain is 
not any time to think." Many executives, in addition to 
working long hours, seem impelled to carry large brief cases 
home for evening work. One executive stated, "There has 
been much criticism of executives for their apparent lack of a 
business philosophy, but we don't have the time to think out 
an implementation of our philosophy in terms of our day-to- 
industry should have produced men of genuine vision, men of sensibility, men of 
breadth and depth, men tuned to the times and capable of courageous action, it 
has given us, on the whole, nonentities puffed out with their own importance, 
blown up to Gargantuan stature by a corps of "yes men" whose sole occupation it 
has been to isolate their leaders from all ideas, to inculcate the insidious con- 
sciousness of infallibility — men to whom power was everything and profit the only 
key to that power. In an industrial world where are the thoughtful men?" 
H. Frederick Wilkie, A Rebel Tells (New York, D.Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 
1946), p. 268. Mr. Wilkie suggests that one of the ways of developing broad, 
wide-experienced leaders is through intelligent rotation, that is, "the exposure of 
the individual to all phases of industry rather than isolating him in one job and 
making an expert of him" (p. 270). 


Administration of Development Programs 

day decisions." Another objective, therefore, of the advanced 
management program is to meet this need. Mature business 
managers, given the time and the associations with other 
business managers and Faculty members, have the opportun- 
ity to consider and think through some of the variables in the 
formulation of their own social philosophies. 

A third key objective of the program is to assist participants 
in understanding better what is involved in administration, 
that is, in getting things done through people. Here again, 
there is no attempt to formulate and suggest for adoption a 
series of rules or principles. Each man, through participation 
in class case discussions, has the opportunity for reorienting 
his own attitudes and thinking about people. Many who 
have attended the course reported that they could not define 
specifically what they had learned, but they knew that, 
"Something happened to my thinking about administration 
which profoundly affected my attitude on the job." 

It is difficult, of course, to measure the extent to which 
participation in an advanced management program has 
contributed to greater administrative effectiveness of the 
participants. One member said, "No one will ever be able 
to prove that the company will make more money because 
I attended, but I know the exposure was worth while." 
Perhaps, the more specific comments of men who attended 
an advanced management course, worked for two or three 
years, and then reported their conclusions, would be valid 
measures of the program's results. 

One executive stated: 

. . .it is very difficult to point out specific applications of 
information or benefits obtained from the Advanced Manage- 
ment Program inasmuch as the benefits are usually applied 
unconsciously rather than by picking out some specific case or 
principle for application in one's work. 

Apparently some of our people expect a radical change to 
take place in an employee upon his return. I do not believe 
that the course was intended to accomplish this nor should it 
be expected since such changes which do take place are almost 
unnoticeable and each individual will retain his own inherent 
characteristics. Instead, the course emphasizes the practical 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

application of human relations principles with which all of us 
are already more or less familiar but which at times are over- 
looked in our desire to solve problems in the most logical and 
sound manner. Through the advanced management program, 
however, a participant should be able in general to temper his 
actions and reasoning along the lines accepted today for dealing 
with people in business and industry and this I have attempted 
to do. The real benefit of the course should show up in an 
individual as he progresses in an organization through his 
greater knowledge and ability to handle almost any problem 
which arises in any area based upon the principles brought 
out in the various courses. 

Another executive reported: 

This course pointed out policies and practices of business in 
the past that have resulted in severe and sometimes almost 
crippling legislation; it pointed out practices that still are preva- 
lent in business in general with the very strong warning that if 
business does not set its own house in order it will be set in order 
for it in a way that will make it difficult if not impossible to 
conduct business, and for that matter our American way of life, 
as we now do. 

Other comments were: 

The real value of the program lies in its ability to mature a 
man's judgment — and to bring him to his period of peak 
productivity faster than would otherwise be the case. 

I sincerely feel that new avenues of thought and methods of 

doing my work were opened to me and that I am gaining by 

following through. 

* * * 

I gained most from the discussions of the techniques and 
procedures employed in collective bargaining. 

. . .my reaction to the whole course was most favorable 
particularly because underlying the entire program, regardless 
of the topical breakdown involved, was the basic principle of a 
search for improvement in human relations. I cannot help 
but feel that I not only gained a great deal from the study of 

[i8 4 ] 

Administration of Development Programs 

the various phases in human relations, but in my day to day 
activities I have been able to utilize, in tangible and intangible 
ways, the knowledge thus gained. 

* * * 

The program brought out the necessity of defining the re- 
sponsibility and authority of all people in the organization. 

I now have a very clear picture of how dependent we, as 
manufacturers, are on the sales department and can understand 
the reasons for our cooperating promptly to meet their demands. 
This has been most helpful during the last few months during 
the transition from a sellers' to a buyers' market. 

I personally feel that the broadening of viewpoint by personal 
contacts and by the systematic, organized studying of funda- 
mental business principles has far outweighed any specific 
benefits I might enumerate. 

To date, approximately 1,250 executives from over 250 
companies have attended the Advanced Management Pro- 
gram at Harvard, and other schools report a growing interest 
and attendance at their courses. Many schools throughout 
the United States, which are not now active in this phase of 
adult education, are working on programs, and within a few 
years their courses will be available to business managements. 


In a few of the companies studied it was found that com- 
mittees were used as a method for the business education and 
experience of younger members of management. In one 
company the committee idea was so prevalent as an integral 
part of operations that the president characterized the organ- 
ization as the Universal Committee Company, rather than as 
the Universal Manufacturing Company. He added that for 
his purposes a committee was never organized for action, for 
getting things done. Rather, when committee members from 
several of the various functions worked together, they all 
learned what some of the problems were in departments other 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

than their own, and developed an awareness of business 
knowledge which was useful in subsequent interfunctional 
relationships. No effort was made in this study to consider 
the many problems of committees as a tool for administration. 
Insufficient evidence was found to indicate the value of using 
committees for development purposes, and the subject is 
mentioned merely to suggest management's consideration 
of committees as another personnel development approach. 

The general manager of one company reported that com- 
mittees constituted a very useful means for bringing together 
the different points of view found in the company's various 
functions. It was especially helpful, he thought, to the highly 
specialized and technical men in the research department. 
He stated, "It was the rare research man, indeed, who had 
any idea of production problems or sales problems." An 
example was cited in which a new consumers' drug product 
was compounded in the research department, but executives 
in the sales department quickly pointed out that an aromatic 
addition would be necessary to make the product acceptable 
to consumers. The scientists who developed the product and 
the director of research resisted bitterly the addition of any- 
thing to a product which "medically was better than anything 
on the market." 

The general manager asked the chairman of the new 
products committee to call a meeting of all those members of 
the management with a direct interest in the prepared 
product. In this company the chairman of each committee 
was the only permanent member; others were asked to serve 
when the topics to be discussed involved their operations. 
The general manager stated that this practice made it possible 
to charge the chairman with responsibility for action on 
matters discussed. Also, it permitted great flexibility in 
arranging committee membership according to the nature of 
the problems. 

At the meeting of the new products committee, the sales 
department manager presented a report on the trial distribu- 
tion of the new product in a selected small marketing area. 
This report indicated that the strong medicinal odor of the 
product was objectionable to users. The sales personnel who 


Administration of Development Programs 

directed the trial distribution reported their discussions with 
consumers, and it became apparent that without added 
aromatics consumers preferred to buy and use the less effective 
product of a competitor. The company's general manager 
stated that he was convinced that acceptance by the scientists 
of the idea that an aromatic substance needed to be added 
was made possible by the committee discussion of the problem. 
He added that he doubted whether the research personnel 
would have capitulated if they had been approached directly. 
The exposure of their reasons for resistance, however, to the 
executives from other functions disclosed the invalidity of their 
position. Again, this case situation as reported has been 
greatly simplified, but the manager of the organization was 
firm in his belief that the committee device served a useful 

['8 7 ] 


Summary and Conclusions 

As indicated in the Introduction, the purpose of this study 
has been to examine the practices, methods, and procedures 
employed in selected manufacturing companies for the growth 
and development of their executives and potential executives. 
No attempt was made to determine the typical approach 
found in manufacturing companies, for the objective has been 
to define what seem to be the best methods. It is hoped that 
the managements of manufacturing and other companies 
may find the conclusions useful in their efforts to stimulate 
personnel growth in their respective organizations. 

While the case evidence in this study was secured largely 
from manufacturing companies, it is believed that the findings 
arising out of the evidence have application to any organiza- 
tion of people. The job of the administrator, the executive, 
is essentially the same in manufacturing, wholesale, retail, 
mining, and service companies, as well as in community, 
social, church, and other similar organizations. To be sure, 
there are differences in the requirements of job knowledge, 
skills, and personality traits, but the one common thread 
found in all organizations is the job of the leader to get things 
done through group effort. It is this element, the ability to 
organize and direct the energies of a group of people for the 
accomplishment of a stated objective, which distinguishes the 

It became apparent as the project progressed that a consid- 
erable amount of further study could have been, and probably 
should have been, devoted to specific aspects of the personnel 
growth problem. For example, each of the major elements of 
development programs, job specifications, appraisals, and 
development methods, could easily become the separate 
topics of major studies. It is hoped that further investigations 


Summary and Conclusions 

will be carried on in this field, for we have much to learn 
about the social problems of our industrial civilization. Un- 
questionably the social sciences have lagged, and one of 
today's important problems is that of finding and developing 
administrators with the "ability to think, and act responsibly, to 
work cooperatively with others, and to provide others with opportunities 
to work effectively and with satisfaction within the group" 

The case examples which have been presented as supporting 
evidence for the conclusions outlined here were greatly 
simplified, of course. The very nature of a discussion of 
human relationships makes difficult the task of determining 
the facts, resolving their meaning, and reporting the findings 
in their proper context. Considerable effort has been made 
to separate misleading expressions of sentiments, to reproduce 
realistically the circumstances of individual situations and to 
report faithfully the findings. If some of the situations seem 
unreal or impossible, it is the fault of the author, for every 
example used in this volume originated in an actual business 

A related problem involved in a study of this nature is that 
of cause and effect. Many complex and interdependent 
factors bear on any human relationship. To state that 
because a superior did thus, the subordinate responded so is 
only possible after a thoroughgoing study of the whole situa- 
tion. Even then, there is no simple and direct cause and ef- 
fect relationship. In addition, misinterpretations by the 
observer or the reader may result in misleading and erroneous 
conclusions. The difficulties of this problem of research in 
the area are acknowledged. But with recognition of the haz- 
ard, an effort has been made to determine for the use of 
business managements what seem to be illustrative examples 
of the effective approaches for the growth and development of 
executives. Many students of the subject have been reluctant 
to report their tentative findings because of the problem of 
presentation. Subject, however, to the infirmities of ade- 
quate qualifying phraseology, the main conclusions are here- 
with summarized. 

For the purposes of developing executives in individual 
organizations no universally applicable list of quantities of 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

qualities was found during the course of this study. There is 
no such thing as the ideal executive who can effectively fulfill 
the function of administration in each position in every organ- 
ization. Care must be exercised to distinguish the definition 
of so-called executive qualities for growth and development 
objectives in individual companies from the listing of high 
general standards which serve as desiderata for all responsible 

For the latter purpose Dean Donald K. David 1 listed the 
qualities of an ideal executive as: 

i . The ability to get other people to work effectively. 

2. The ability to make decisions in the light of the facts avail- 
able and under the pressure of time. 

3. The instinctive acceptance of responsibility. 

4. An understanding of the economic, social, and political 
forces which shape the environment within which he 

Certainly, these are desirable goals for every responsible 
businessman. But for purposes of the development of partic- 
ular persons for particular positions in particular companies 
in particular situations more detailed and specific qualifica- 
tions are needed. The executive capacities and skills required 
in each situation will vary, and the determination of what is 
required must be arrived at in terms of the working environ- 
ment in which they are exercised. 

After the desired standards for each administrative position 
in the organization have been defined, appraisals of the people 
are necessary so that the qualities of the man can be matched 
against the specified requirements of the job. But, in addition, 
the appraisals serve as a pin point of personal weaknesses for 
development attention and are an important incentive to the 
employees appraised. 

The appraisal process is a method of inventorying the 
human assets of an organization on a systematic and orderly 
basis. In every organization informal personal appraisals 
are made continuously as a part of operations. And the 

1 Dean Donald K. David, Harvard Business School. An address delivered before 
the Harvard Business School Club of New York, 1948. 

[ 190] 

Summary and Conclusions 

purpose of periodic and systematic appraisals is an effort to 
make the process as objective as possible, even though it is 
recognized that the techniques for personal appraisal lack 
absolutely trustworthy precision. 

As in the case of job specifications, here again the elements 
included in the appraisal form must be related to the situation 
to which they apply. The terms "imagination," "loyalty," 
"ability to get along with people," for example, in one situa- 
tion may mean something quite different from what they 
mean in another case. The terms used in a company ap- 
praisal form, therefore, constitute the language for the ap- 
praisal process in that company. 

The basic premise of personal appraisals is that a man's 
abilities and capabilities can be determined best by what he 
has done, a study of his record on the job. This premise was 
found also in the techniques which Dr. Robert N. McMurry 
developed and used in the Pattern Interview for the selection 
of personnel in many companies. 

To serve the purposes for which appraisal forms and the 
appraisal process are intended, it is extremely important that 
commensurate care is exercised to assure, so far as possible, 
unbiased and fair results. In many situations those asked to 
prepare the appraisal forms did not take the time to do more 
than observe the mechanistic requirements of the form. The 
results were worse than if no appraisal form system had been 
used because those who used the report assumed that the 
performance reported was valid. The importance of care 
in the preparation of appraisals is reemphasized because 
without it almost irreparable damage can be done to indi- 
viduals and to their organizations. 

The preparation of job specifications and of an inventory of 
personnel are largely preliminary steps to the useful core of a 
complete executive development program. To be sure, the 
information resulting from the accomplishment of the first 
two steps has independent value, but the achievement of the 
objective, developing people for management positions, will 
depend upon what is done affirmatively with the data pro- 

A major conclusion of this study is that the most effective 


The Growth and Development of Executives 

way of learning what is involved in the performance of 
executive functions is by doing. People learn by doing, and 
no adequate substitute was observed during the course of 
this study. This belief does not mean, of course, that indi- 
viduals cannot learn through participation in off-the-job 
growth and development efforts. There are many augmenta- 
tive sources of business knowledge which contribute to the 
capacities of executives and potential executives. But the 
main and fundamental method of developing executive skills 
and capacities lies in providing opportunities for adminis- 
trators to learn by doing. 

In some companies, providing opportunities to perform 
the job constitutes the single method of developing subordi- 
nates. In many others, however, members of management 
indicated by their statements and their practices that they 
largely overlooked the learning possibilities of on-the-job 
growth. The best classroom possible is to be found in the 
work situation and, unfortunately, many organizations do 
not take advantage of its educational possibilities. 

The evidence on what was involved in learning by doing 
indicated two main segments of the topic, job progression and 
coaching of subordinates by superiors. With regard to job 
progression it was found that in many companies substantive 
job knowledge was defined for each administrative position, 
and then planned paths of progression to provide the required 
job knowledge were defined. In this way men who passed 
through the planned paths were given exposures to a variety 
of operations and thereby had a wide background of business 
experience when they reached the higher levels. Planning 
the job knowledge steps for potential upper-level executives 
is far better than leaving the accumulation of this knowledge 
to chance and fortuitous assignment. 

Inasmuch as people learn by doing, the superior officer is 
the real determinant of what his subordinates learn on the job. 
The superior controls the work situation to a large extent so 
far as his subordinates are concerned, and whether or not 
subordinates have opportunities to perform on the job depends 
on what the superior does or does not do. 

To emphasize the affirmative role of the superior, the 

[ 192] 

Summary and Conclusions 

process by which superiors get things done through subordi- 
nates was described as coaching. What is involved in coach- 
ing does not constitute some new method or practice for 
dealing with subordinates. Rather, coaching represents 
another way of looking at the administrative process. Coach- 
ing is administration, and administration is coaching. 

The elements involved in coaching were divided into five 
major segments: 

i. Subordinates must be given opportunities to perform. 

2. The superior must counsel subordinates, using the work 
situation as the framework for counseling. 

3. The superior must create a team of his subordinates, some- 
times described as motivation. 

4. The relationship between superior and subordinates must 
be characterized as one of mutual confidence, a climate of 

5. The superior must set the standards of performance. 

These elements of coaching are not techniques or artificial 
tricks to get others to do as one wishes. They represent what 
were found to be the common elements in the administrative 
efforts of responsible executives in many manufacturing 
companies throughout the country. The elements are sug- 
gested as a framework of standards for the guidance of men 
interested in multiplying their effectiveness through the 
utilization of the capacities of others. 

Whether the administrator observes these standards in the 
performance of his job depends largely upon his own basic 
attitudes. Therefore, getting coaches to coach requires 
management effort directed toward a reshaping of the atti- 
tudes of executives. 

Three main approaches to getting coaches to coach were 

1. The adoption and adherence in practice of a policy that 
success in developing subordinates constitutes an important 
element in the appraisals of the superiors themselves. 

2. The example of the president or chief operating executive. 

3. The organization of case discussion conferences for admin- 

[ J 93] 

The Growth and Development of Executives 

In the companies studied for this project, these three 
methods were found to be the main approaches, but it would 
be misleading to indicate that there were not others. Perhaps 
one of the most promising of these is role playing. Little 
evidence as to the effectiveness of role playing was found in 
the companies investigated, but other students of management 
development report encouraging experiences. 2 Considera- 
tion of role playing and other methods for affecting basic 
attitudes and developing executive skills is suggested, for the 
knowledge of how to teach the administrative process is in 
the pioneer stage. 

The implicit assumption, of course, as to the effectiveness 
of coaching in the development of executives and potential 
executives is that the superior is a competent administrator. 
It is doubted that the development of able administrators is 
possible in an organization which has never known good 
management. And the key figure in the organization with 
regard to competency is the chief operating executive. He 
sets the policy and the example for the whole organization. 
If he observes in practice the elements of coaching, his example 
becomes the real policy of the company. 

It was found that achieving a willingness of members of 
top management to accept and adopt coaching as their way 
of operating was relatively easy contrasted with acceptance 
by members of middle management. One executive described 
the area of middle management as a no-man's land; a ruth- 
lessly competitive segment of organizations where "men who 
have not yet arrived fight for the reducing number of better 
jobs in the typical pyramidal business organization." If, 
however, members of top management observe the elements 
of coaching and if efforts are made to shape the fundamental 
attitudes of men in middle management, the benefits of com- 
petition for jobs can be retained without the efficiency reduc- 
ing results which come out of middle management concern 
for individual self and position. Middle management is not 
necessarily and inherently a no-man's land. In those situa- 

2 "Role Playing and Management Training," Alex Bavelas, Publications in Social 
Science, Series 2, No. 21, Department of Economics and Social Science, Massa- 
chusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

[ 194] 

Summary and Conclusions 

tions where it is, top management has not fulfilled its responsi- 
bilities of administration. 
I This report on executive development might be discourag- 
i ing to those who are looking for quick and easy methods. 
I None were found. Rather, providing for the growth of per- 
j sonal abilities and capacities requires time and patience. 
As we learn more about the human assets of business organiza- 
' tions, improvements in methods and approaches are likely 
to shorten the time required. But it must be remembered 
that essentially education is a slow process. 



adaptability, importance of, in planned 

progression, 100-102 

benefit of advanced management pro- 
grams to, 183-185 
function of, same in all kinds of com- 
panies, 3, 4, 188 
need for coaching efforts of, 181 
objectives of, 112, 113 
qualities needed in, 189 
relation of, to subordinates, 113, 114 
see also superiors, executives 
Advanced Management Program, 181- 

affirmative methods as element of devel- 
opment programs, 177 
appraisals of employees, 48-76 

as basis for promotion, 50, 5 1 

as basis for defining weaknesses, 51, 52 

as element of development programs, 

as incentive, 52, 53 

forms used for, 54-66 

frequency of, 67, 68 

made by whom?, 68-71 

need for, 190, 191 

problems of, 71-78 

secrecy of, 77, 78 

use of files in connection with, 81,82 

use of, in replacement tables, 78-8 1 

use of psychological tests in, 83-91 

whom to include in?, 66, 67 
aptitude tests, 87 

consistency of, 162-163 

generalizations helpful in shaping, 168- 

importance of, in coaching process, 

time required to change, 158 

Barnard, Chester I., 10, 19, 23, 51, 95 

Bavelas, Alex, 109, 194 

board of directors, responsibility of, 15-16 

Bordner, Howard W., 141 

Boudreau, Lou, 108 

characteristics, personal, for new em- 
ployees, 32-34 
climate of confidence, 130-139 

definition of, 131 

importance of, 131-136 

satisfactory level of, 136-139 
coaching (process), 107-157 

annual review as stimulant to, 162, 163 

approaches to, 193, 194 

attitude of superiors in, 157-163 

climate of confidence as part of, 130- 

conference programs as help in, 164- 

counseling as part of, 122-130 
creating a team as element of, 142-157 
definition of, 107 
five elements of, 193 
a line responsibility, 109, no 
part of superiors in, 107-109 
problems of, 1 71-173 
relation of "outside" consultants to, 

no, in 
relation of personnel department to, 

standards of performance in, 139-142 
Commissioners' 1941 Standard Ordinary 

Mortality Table, 5 
committees as approach to development 

programs, 185-187 
conference programs, 1 64-1 71 

distinguished from other types of con- 
ferences, 1 70-1 71 
generalizations concerning, 168-170 



coordinator for executive development, 

function of, 179, 180 
Copeland, Melvin T., 15 

of executive development program, 5-7, 

of planned progression, 97, 98 
counseling, 122-130 
definition of, 122 
methods of, 126, 127 
use of, by superiors, 122-126 

David, Donald K., 190 
development of executives 

costs of, 5-7, 13-15 

management complacency regarding, 

need for, 4-1 1 

programs for, 11-15 

responsibility for, 15, 16 
development programs 

administration of, 176-187 

advanced management program as 
approach to, 181 -185 

committees as approach to, 185-187 

contents of, 177 

costs of, 5-7, 13-15 

duties of nonoperating staff in regard 
to, 177-179 

effective handling of, 180, 181 

need of goal for, 24-27 

reasons for lack of, 1 1-14 

three important elements of, 177 

use of psychological tests in, 83-91 

education, technical, tendency toward, 


definition of function of, 18-19 
measurement of qualities of, 53-66 
myth of the "ideal," 20-23 
requirement of position of, 1 8-47 
see also administrators, superiors 


importance of, in creating a team, 1 50- 

indication of, in promotion, 153-154 
family businesses 

need for development program in, 8 

unfair treatment in, 151 
files, use of, for appraisal forms, 81, 82 
flexibility, need of, in planned progres- 
sion, 95, 96 

use of, for appraisal, 54-66 

use of, for defining job specifications, 

Glover, John D., 19, 164 

growth of executives, scope of this study 

of, 3, 4> 

see also development 

Haire, Mason, 1 1 1 

Harvard Business School, Advanced 

Management Program in, 181- 185 
Hower, Ralph M., 19, 164 
human beings in industry, recognition 
of, 4 

"ideal" executive, qualities of, 190 
intelligence tests, 86, 87 

of employees, 48-76 

of people, 47 
see also appraisal 

Jenkins, John G., 21 

job qualifications, see job specifications 

job requirements, 56, 58 

three reasons for defining of, 23-39 
job specifications, 96, 97, 191 

an element of development programs, 

examples of, 40-43, 45 

for supervising development program, 
179, 180 

procedure for defining, 39-47 

standard form for, 44-46 

value of, for promotion selection, 27-31 

value of, in hiring new personnel, 31-39 
see also job requirements 



Knickerbocker, Irving, 20, 21 

labor unions, 9, 67 
Livingston, J. Sterling, 5 

psychological tests, 83-91 
conclusions on, 84 
doubt as to place of, 83 
validity of, 84-86 

management, complacency of, 8, 9 
measurement of executive qualities, 54-66 
middle management, attitude of, toward 

coaching, 194 
motivation of employees, 1 00 
McGregor, Douglas, 131 
McMurry, Robert W., 36, 191 

on-the-job experience, 119, 120, 121 
on-the-job growth, 192 
"outside" consultants, relation of, to 
coaching, no, in 

participation, 178 

importance of, in creating a team, 146- 
performance, standards of, 139-142 

importance of, 140-142 

superior's adherence to, 139 
personality tests, 89, 90 
personnel department, relation of, to 

coaching, 1 09-1 12 
personnel, new, importance of selection 

of, 31-39 
proficiency tests, 87 
programs for executive development, 

progression, planned, 93-102 

adaptability important in, 100-102 

costs of, in relation to returns, 97, 98 

importance of flexibility in, 95, 96 

need for, 93-95 

purpose of, 93, 94 

time required for, 99, 100 

as indication of fairness, 153-154 

use of appraisal forms for, 50, 5 1 
promotion selection 

from "inside" company, 27-30 

importance of, 27-31 

replacement tables, 78-81 

requirements, job, three reasons for de- 
fining of, 23-39 

responsibility as developer of men, 116, 

review of progress, 127-129 

rotation among business functions, 96, 
advantages of, 103, 104 
practicability of, 104, 105 

semantics, problems of, 18, 19 

skills, need to exercise, 92, 93 

small businesses, need for development 
program in, 7, 8 

specifications, job, see job specifications 

specialization, 52 

growth of functional, 9, 10 

Stagdill, Ralph M., 20 


acceptance of counseling by, 122-126 
fair treatment of, 150-157 
interest of superiors in, 107-108 
opportunities of, to perform, 1 14-130 
participation of, 146-148 
promotion of, 153-154 


adherence of, to standards of perform- 
ance, 139 
as controller of work situation, 1 92 
delegation of authority by, 117, 118 
importance of attitudes of, 1 57-1 61 
interest of, in subordinates, 107, 108 
opportunities of, for coaching, 108, 109 
opportunities of, for counseling, 122- 

reluctance of, to delegate authority, 

responsibility of, to subordinates, 121- 
see also administrators, executives 

[ 199] 


team, creating of 

as element of coaching, 142-157 

as incentive to employees, 143 

first step in, 144-146 

importance of, 143-144 

need for fair treatment in, 150-157 

need for participation in, 146-150 
tests, 83-91 

aptitude, 87 

intelligence, 86, 87 

personality, 89, 90 

proficiency, 87 

psychological, 83-91 

vocational interest, 87-89 

Towl, Andrew R., 15 

"training" programs, unpopularity of, 
12, 13 

turnover, reduction of, by use of specifica- 
tions, 34, 35 

"Varo Machine Company," 165-168 
vocational interest tests, 87-89 

Ward, Lewis B., 88, 89 
Westinghouse study, 9 

Young, Owen D., 116 

[ 200 ] 




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